You can’t ‘beet’ Locally Grown Veg

Vegetable Advocate volunteers in Northern Ireland are calling on you to join them this month in a Love NI Veg 7-Day Meal Challenge. Just ‘have a go’ and pledge to take the challenge to contribute to making a difference in your own life, as part of your local community and to the environment (via Belfast Food Network)

Image via Belfast Food Network

Portia Woods, Vegetable Advocate Support Officer NI expressed “I was delighted to meet with the Belfast Lord Mayor to discuss how the 7-Day Meal Challenge will help people look for, seek out and support the daily purchase of vegetables grown locally and in season in Northern Ireland. Increasing veg consumption is the overall aim, but it is more than that. It is about realising the high quality and availability of local vegetables, the value for money, the health benefits and the variety of meals that can be enjoyed. We discussed how easy and how difficult it might be, the fun that families can have, and how some surprises might be found such as locally grown pak choi.”

(L-R) Michael Gillies, Course Director, Culinary Arts at Ulster University
Portia Woods Vegetable Advocate Support Officer NI
Lord Mayor of Belfast Cllr Kate Nicholl.
Photograph taken at The Academy Restaurant, Ulster University

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Kate Nicholl, said: “The Love NI Veg 7-Day Meal Challenge is a fantastic initiative from the Belfast Food Network and I’m looking forward to taking part. We have such wonderful produce right here on our doorsteps in Northern Ireland and supporting local producers not only helps to boost the local economy, but also contributes more widely to helping the environment.

“During my term in office, I want to encourage residents across Belfast to do #OneWeeThing to combat climate change. Eating locally-grown vegetables is a great way to do your own wee thing; it’s healthy, delicious and eating locally grown veg doesn’t carry the same environmental impact as vegetables from other parts of the world. We need to look after our planet and taking small steps such as this can make a huge impact.”

The challenge can be taken at your own time and pace up until the 31st March 2022.

The challenge is to include a variety of veg ONLY grown in NI, in at least one meal per day for seven days. The public are encouraged to take part with the Vegetable Advocates and with those who have already signed up. To register and find out what exactly is involved fill in the short Registration Form or email

The Culinary Arts Management Students at the University of Ulster have pledged the challenge! Under the guidance of course Director Michael Gillies they will be taking part in Love NI Veg workshops dedicated to the challenge. Anyone who wants to follow their lead can do so and get creative like the on-site The Academy Restaurant where students might surprise you with a delicious and innovative lunch menu during the challenge!

Throughout the year Vegetable Advocates have made a commitment to NI veg and it has already seen results. It is about increasing vegetable consumption. It is not a guilt trip or activity to make people feel worried about lifestyle choices, nor about reducing consumption of other foods. It’s about eating more veg for health and supporting local. The Vegetable Advocates are part of a UK wide Peas Please project launched in 2017 by the Food Foundation. They engage with local communities, farmers, retailers and manufactures to achieve a common goal of increasing vegetable consumption.

Reflecting on last year, Portia states “Like many others, I feel a responsibility to take one step or many small steps to satisfy my own climate anxiety. It is an increasing footprint on our society, especially for children who have gained the understanding since COP26.” The impact of the climate crisis demands collective action: it requires system and society behaviour transformation. As individuals we cannot stop climate change alone so working together particularly as household units we can increase our vegetable consumption, benefit our health, environment, and local farming economy: buy buying local!

With February assigned the month of love, it’s perfect to really Love NI Veg – you can’t ‘beet’ it!

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