Asheville, North Carolina, challenges residents and local businesses to eat plant-based food for one whole week.

Vegan meal.

Image credits Alexandra Gerea.

Between June 4 and 10, Asheville, North Carolina, will hold the first city-proclaimed vegan challenge in the US. City officials, alongside no-kill animal rescue organization Brother Wolf Animal Rescue hope that the challenge will “promote good health, animal justice, social justice, environmental justice, and climate justice,” according to a proclamation signed by mayor Esther Manheimer.

The challenge is spearheaded by the Brother Wolf Animal Rescue. In collaboration with Garth Davis, MD, and his team at Mission Health Weight Management, they created a guide with a seven-day meal plan, grocery list, and other tips for those who will take up the challenge. Brother Wolf will also partner with several local restaurants to highlight vegan options.

More than 800 people have signed up in the first 10 days since the challenge was issued, reports Citizen Times quoting Courtney Zurcher, Marketing Director for VeganFest and Brother Wolf.

“The goal is to take the number of people signed up, and track the environmental impact of all those people going vegan for seven days,” she added.  “We want to show, as a city, what you can do to impact climate change through a vegan diet.”

And the Asheville challenge has a lot backing it. Recent research shows that cutting down on meat and dairy is the single most effective way to lower your environmental footprint, mainly by reducing emissions, freshwater use, land use, water pollution (eutrophication) and air pollution (acidification), in the agricultural sector.

“A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use,” said Joseph Poore, main author of the study, in a press release. “It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car,” he said, as these only cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The seven-day challenge leads up to the Asheville VeganFest (June 8 to 10), which will also be presented by Brother Wolf Animal Rescue.

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There’s also hope of ‘outsourcing’ the challenge — the shelter has created a 7-Day Challenge Start-up Kit complete with a sample press release, marketing plan, and proclamation. They’ve also set up a custom challenge website, a guide to securing partnerships and sponsorship, and offer a training webinar available on their website.

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