The Lebanese are setting the right example and are going vegan more often: for animals, health and planet
More and more people in Lebanon are opting for plant-based food and veganism. Recently, the Hayek hospital in Beirut became the first hospital in the world to switch to a completely plant-based (vegan) range of meals. Social initiatives such as Lebanese Vegans are also getting more and more people interested in plant-based food, animal rights and the environment. The interest of many Lebanese in a better, more ethical food system was evident as early as 2018, during a successful conference of the Animal Politics Foundation in Beirut.
In March, the Beirut-based Hayek Hospital decided to stop serving animal products like meat and cheese to patients. Instead, they now serve various all-vegetable (vegan) dishes. According to the hospital, they do this for patients’ health:
"There is an elephant in the room that no one wants to address. When the World Health Organization (WHO) classifies red and processed meat as carcinogenic, serving meat in a hospital is like serving cigarettes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that 3 out of 4 new or emerging infectious diseases originate in animals. We have a moral responsibility to act on and align our beliefs with our actions. Show the courage to finally address the elephant."
Hayek hospital has been informing people about vegan food for some time. Over the past year, patients were already given the choice between a meat or a plant-based meal and provided with information about risks and benefits.
The Hayek hospital is the first hospital to go fully vegan. In many countries, hospitals still serve unhealthy animal products and high-quality plant-based meals are hard to come by. The Dutch Party for the Animals, for example, has therefore asked the Dutch government to commit to healthier, plant-based food in hospitals.
One of the owners of the hospital, Georges Hayek, turned vegan in 2010. He is also the founder of the Lebanese Vegans. The organisation uses the power of local communities to work to protect nature and the environment against any form of injustice and exploitation. They are working towards a world in which animals are not traded, exploited and killed as product. To achieve this, they organise informative social events, educational campaigns, and more. They also offer free plant-based meals to anyone who needs.
Three years ago, the Dutch Party for the Animals and the Lebanese Vegans met during an international conference on food and agriculture. The conference was organised by the Animal Politics Foundation, the international foundation of the Party for the Animals, which is committed to strengthening the global political movement for animal rights, nature and the environment. The conference showed that in Lebanon more and more people are becoming aware that our current food system is not only terrible for animals but destroys our planet and our health as well. The Lebanese Vegans played an important part in creating this awareness.
At the end of 2020, the Animal Politics Foundation organised a webinar with Georges Hayek and Seb Alex, a popular animal rights activist and speaker. They told the Arabic-speaking public about their experiences and activities, and why it is good for animals, planet and people to stop using animal products. That was also when Hayek announced that his hospital would soon offer plant-based meals only.