Are You Up for a Challenge? The 2014 GESTA Veggie Challenge

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Written by Caroline Elworthy

The Guelph Students for Ethical Treatment of Animals (GSETA) is proposing to the students of the University of Guelph a challenge of personal health, environmental awareness and social consciousness: the 2014 Veggie Challenge. The week-long challenge to expand one’s perspective on healthy and sustainable eating is underway this very week and will conclude with a participants draw on Friday, November 21.

The Veggie Challenge looks to promote an increased awareness as to how much one individual’s decisions can impact the larger food system, as well as the accessibility of a plant based diet.  The challenge lasts for a week with contesters recieveing online suppourt in recipe form from the GSETA, making the transition to vegetarianism a smooth one.

The GESTA was stationed in the UC Thursday and Friday of last week, handing out information on how to begin a Vegetarian lifestyle and handing out free vegan goodies for passer-bys. 

“It’s very important to understand how food is made, whether it be how vegetable are grown or how animals are treated on farms, for both personal and social reasons,” says Rebecca Jacobs, a member of the GESTA and one of the  students running the week-long challenge.

On a social and environmental scale, human agriculture is one of the most impactful activities in the world; one that needs to become more much sustainable to be continued into the future. The total amount of water withdrawal to support agriculture on a global level is 95 per cent, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.  

“Large-scale animal production has turned living-beings into 'products'and prioritises cost-efficiency over animal welfare which  has led to unnecessarily inhumane facilities and practices, such as overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, the overuse of antibiotics and unnatural diets to promote fatty body-types,” states Rebecca Jacobs. The horrific conditions that animals have to suffer through also negatively impact the human workers who must observe and actively partake within this system of animal mistreatmenet. 

This year, the veggie challenge urges Guelph students to become a consciously aware member of the larger environmental community and observe how to cultivate a locally sourced diet and lifestyle.

“We’re also highlighting the many benefits plant-based diets can have on human health, the planet, and of course on animal welfare,” says Jacobs. 

According to the Toronto Vegetarian Association, a meat-based diet uses seven times more land use than a plant based diet. Currently, the land available for agriculture has peaked, and is now slowly disintegrating due to industrial and urban expansion. A slow shift towards a plant-based society would ease many enviromental issues;buying time for natural resources to replenish themselves, allowing tarnished ecosystems to rebuild themselves, and generally reducing the livestock population and energy required to sustain them.

Currently, the challenge has attracted over 50 contestants throughout the Facebook page and signup sheets throughout campus. From the past years, GESTA has seen about 120 participants and expects roughly the same number this year.

“We’re trying to promote increased awareness about how much impact one individual can have on the much larger food system. It might be corny, but we vote with our dollars, and food is something we 'vote for' at least three times a day. What you choose to eat really matters." Jones concludes.

For more information on the Veggie Chellenge, or for tips on how to make the transition to a plant-based diet, please visit GESTA’s Facebook at www.facebook.com/groups or send them an email at .

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