Exclusive interview with Tobias Leenaert
Founder of Veggie Thursday in Ghent
When did you start Veggie Thursday and what gave you the idea?
We started early 2008 as a general campaign, but it got a real boost when in May 2009 the city of Ghent picked up on it.
Is it all over Belgium or do you focus on Ghent?
It’s all over Flanders (Dutch speaking part of Belgium) and soon also Brussels, who will also subsidize it.
What were the schools and organisations reactions?
Reactions have generally been very positive. Participation in Ghent city schools and kindergartens is 94% (campaign is not compulsory).
What response do you get now it’s been running for a while?
We have an awareness of the campaign of 42% in Flanders, 70% in Ghent (just did extensive (and expensive research). Participation in Ghent is 21% (about 50.000 people).
Tell us more about what VeggieVision viewers could expect when visiting Belgium.
Belgium as a whole, in general? Belgium is often ignored and used as a point of transfer or people pass through it, but it has some wonderful historic cities: Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges and… Ghent, the latter of which is ignored most of the four in cases when people do visit Belgium.
What is special about Ghent?
It’s the greatest city in Belgium. Young, vibrant, progressive, historic, not too big, not too small it has a big student population.
Why must VeggieVision viewers visit Ghent?
Ghent has the highest density of veggie restaurants in western Europe and beyond: 13 veggie restaurants out of 240.000 people.
Why are you vegan?
Being vegan for me is a very obvious and essential step if you want to live your live causing the least harm possible. And it’s a very tasty way of living to boot.
How is it being vegan in Belgium?
It’s a bit in between the best and the worst countries. Not as easy as in US or UK, but much better than in France or Spain. Vegan is actually not so known in Belgium. Vegetarianism is getting there, and we try to make sure that vegan becomes more known, slowly but surely.
What are your plans for the future?
We want to make Thursday the Veggie Day in the whole of Belgium, make sure people have good culinary experiences and then can move on.
Click here for a list of the veggie restaurants (with a grey V symbol) here:
To fine out more about Ghent – www.vegetarisme.be
And to see the VeggieVision films about Ghent please go to our World Vision Channel or click on a video link below:
Ghent Part 1
Ghent Veggie Capital of Europe
Why Ghent Veggie
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