The city of Portland has long been upheld as a role model in environmental policies in areas from energy-efficient buildings to food and agriculture.
Steve Cohen – Manager, Food Policy and Programs, Portland, Oregon’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, USA, Vegetarian (M): We were the first city to actually have a climate change plan way back in 1993 and we just updated that plan last year in 2009.
VOICE: Portland’s citizens also say that sustainability is a known part of their culture.
Leslie Pol-kosbau – Representative, Portland Parks & Recreation Community Garden Program (F): I represent Portland Parks & Recreation’s Community Garden Program, providing community garden spaces in the city for 35 years. The citizens of Portland wanted us to start a program that would allow them to use land so that they could do that year-round.
VOICE: Mr. Steve Cohen, manager of the Food Policy and Programs of Portland, Oregon’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, is the first US city government official with the title. The creation of his position reflects how the city is also at the forefront of addressing food policy in relation to environmental protection and climate change.
The City Hall recently held a public “Climate and Food Choices Discussion” with Mr. Cohen and author Anna Lappé of the bestselling book, “Diet for a Hot Planet” to seek ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from food. This was followed by a community vegetable garden re-dedication activity, led by Mr. Cohen, who is also a long-time vegetarian.
Steve Cohen (M): I read Francis Moore Lappé’s book in 1972, “Diet for a Small Planet,” and it just made total sense to me. That we’ve got these animals out there that are actually food factories in reverse, putting all this grain in them and you get one pound back for 20 that you put in. Didn’t make sense, and I became a vegetarian and that was it.
VOICE: With the veg diet known to be a key solution to climate change, Portland City also has a head start, with 35 community vegetable gardens and ranking as America’s #1 Best Vegetarian-Friendly Large City by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
Moreover, in April 2010, The Oregonian, the largest newspaper in both Portland and the Pacific Northwest region of the USA, launched a twice-monthly column on Oregonlive.com called “Going Vegan,” which features recipes and other tips on enjoying a vegan lifestyle in Portland.
Bravo Portland and thank you Mr. Cohen, the city government and co-citizens for your leadership in the area of food and the environment.
May yours and other cities worldwide help continue the veg trend for truly sustainable lifestyles. In a November 2009 videoconference in Mexico, Supreme Master Ching Hai encouraged all world governments toward leading roles in the needed shift to veganism to save the planet.