These Danish Politicians ‘Walk the Talk’ by Going Vegan

These Danish Politicians 'Walk the Talk' by Going Vegan

Danish members of parliament from both the Alternative and Red-Green Alliance parties are on a mission to highlight the environmental issues with livestock production: they’re going vegan for 22 days.

It turns out not all politicians on the world stage are bloated ketchup-on-steak egomaniacs. Some are pragmatic and willing to self-sacrifice in order to make the world a (hopefully) better place. (Not that going vegan is any kind of sacrifice.)

Unlike the climate deniers in office in the U.S., Danish politicians are fully aware of the impact of a warming planet, and the many factors contributing to its condition, namely our aggressive animal production. Around the world, more than 56 billion animals are raised for food every year — not including fish and seafood. That’s nearly ten times the amount of humans on the planet, and most certainly an industry impacting our climate.

“Western food production has an enormous climate footprint,” Uffe Elbæk, Alternative party leader, said in a statement. “Political action is needed, and I find it important that we, as politicians, take the first steps and begin to ‘walk the talk.’”

Denmark isn’t historically known for a plant-based diet – or even for that many plant-based meals in general, save for a few cabbage dishes. It’s got a rich history of eating animals (pork, beef, and liver are some of its signature foods). But as a progressive country working toward clean energy and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, the Danish Council of Ethics has been emphasizing plant-based foods as an easy, effective, and healthy way to curb the country’s impact on the climate.

“We need to take action on both a personal and political level in order to address the serious issues of climate change,” says Red-Green Alliance’s environmental secretary, Maria Gjerding.

“Going vegan for 22 days is not going the save the world in itself, but it’s a great opportunity to put focus on Western consumption of animal products and the environmental and animal welfare problems it causes.”

Neighboring countries Netherlands, Sweden, and Germany all have updated dietary guidelines promoting more plants, and the German Ministry of Environment has banned meat from being served at official state events.

If the 22 days plant-based program sounds familiar, you may remember Beyoncé did a similar challenge (and then went on to fund the 22 Days meal delivery program).

“Ditching animal products is a great way to fight climate change,” says Mercy for Animals’ Joe Loria. “In fact, according to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization, carbon dioxide emissions from raising farmed animals make up about 15 percent of global human-induced emissions, with beef and milk production as the leading culprits.”

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Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites and, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better.