The Roddenberry Prize is a climate change action competition that seeks to reward unexpected solutions to climate change. Based on the ranking of the top 10 most effective solutions to reduce global warming by Project Drawdown, four prize categories were selected for this year's themes: food waste, plant-rich diets, girls education, and women's rights.
The winners of the 2018 Prize have now been announced, and Hong Kong's meat-reduction initiative Green Monday has taken the top spot in the Plant-Rich Diets category, which ranked four in Project Drawdown's list, though some research suggests it should be closer to the top.
Vegan diets and the environment
A study published in the journal Science earlier this year assessed the environmental impact of thousands of food producers and products and concluded that avoiding the consumption of meat and dairy is the best way people can reduce their environmental impact on the planet.
Project lead for the study Joseph Poore told The Guardian that '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'.
Green Monday was started to promote 'green, healthy and sustainable living' in 2012 by encouraging the public to give up meat for one day per week in order to reduce their carbon footprint.
And it's reckoned that 1.6 million people in Hong Kong have adopted a meat-free Monday, increasing the flexitarian population share from five percent in 2008 to 23 percent by 2014.
More importantly, the initiative is thought to have prevented some 900,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year and saved 300,000,000 animal lives.
Green Monday's $250,000 share of the prize money comes from the Roddenberry Foundation, which was launched in 2010 to improve the lives of people around the world, in keeping with the philosophy of Gene Roddenberry - the creator of Star Trek.
"I think one of the challenges in the climate space is that people feel that there’s nothing they can do individually - sure, I can do some recycling and don’t have to buy a Hummer, but what difference will my contributions make?" the Roddenberry Foundation's CEO Lior Ipp told Fast Company.
"I think what we need is a more positive narrative that there are in fact things that all of us can do, and guess what, they're really impactful."