Traffic lights in Brussels are doing more than just controlling the flow of cars in the EU capital city.
Similar to the popular “eating animals” stickers that have been appearing on U.S. stop signs for decades, at least two dozen lights in the city have been retooled — the red stop lights now flash “stop meat” and the green go lights urge drivers and pedestrians to “go vegan.”
The updated lights appear to be the work of activists. In a Facebook post, animal rights activist and vegan street artist Misteruncertain took credit for the lights.
“Nice to see my efforts spreading far and wide. So many people spend their time living halfhearted and disinterested in others. It takes courage to be altruistic in a society that is self-centered and to be compassionate in a world that is egotistical,” he wrote.
“One act can transform the very core of someone else’s life. When benevolence is real, boundaries are nonexistent, limits fade, life is more abundant, and the gap between present reality and dreams, close. Animals are innocent beings and deserve to be protected and respected, not massacred for human greed. Veganism is the answer and justice for all life!”
It’s unclear whether Misteruncertain retooled the lights personally or credits his influence for motivating other activists. The city has become one of Europe’s epicenters for climate activism in recent weeks. Students across Europe have begun skipping school on Fridays.
Activists In Action
The movement was spurred on by then 15-year-old Swede Greta Thunberg. “In August last year, she refused to go to school every day until the Swedish elections, asking politicians to take action against climate change,” the Independent notes. “Since then, she’s protested outside the Riksdag parliament house every Friday, sparking the #FridaysForFuture movement, and now she is joined by hundreds of other students every week.”
Earlier this month Brussels saw tens of thousands gathering in the streets. The protest was linked to the resignation of one of Brussels’ environment ministers who took the protests as a personal call to leave office. The marches started after the country passed on carbon-reducing steps in December.
“Some of the most dramatic protests have come in Belgium,” BuzzFeed News reports.
The protests are being spurred on by another teen, 17-year-old Anuna De Wever. Inspired by Thunberg, De Wever and a friend — both not yet old enough to vote — shared a video online that went viral encouraging people to join them in the march. Thousands showed up. And the number of attendees has been growing every week.
“Our generation will no longer accept catastrophic changes that are negatively affecting our future,” British teen activist Lottie Tellyn penned in an op-ed for the Independent yesterday as the UK prepares for another day of marches tomorrow. “Years of limited action against climate change, years of covered-up information on the climate crisis, and now we are finally saying enough is enough.”
Meat and Climate Change
Diet has been inextricably linked to climate change. Livestock production is the single biggest greenhouse gas emitter – more than the transportation sectors. Some estimates put livestock production at a stunning 51 percent of all emissions.
“Huge reductions in meat-eating are essential to avoid dangerous climate change. In western countries, beef consumption needs to fall by 90% and be replaced by five times more beans and pulses,” the Guardian noted about a study published in the journal Nature last October.
“Food production already causes great damage to the environment, via greenhouse gases from livestock, deforestation and water shortages from farming, and vast ocean dead zones from agricultural pollution,” the Guardian reports.
“But without action, its impact will get far worse as the world population rises by 2.3 billion people by 2050 and global income triples, enabling more people to eat meat-rich western diets.”