Budapest residents set vegan cooking challenge as part of moves to cut carbon footprint
Penelope Liersch in Budapest


Just four months into 2021, and there have already been several devastating environmental disasters across the globe as wildfires, storms and floods are heightened by climate change. 

The impact they will have in the long run may seem far removed from the heart of Hungary's capital Budapest. However, residents are making changes to what they eat and how they shop and reuse items to have an impact on the bigger picture. 



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One district has started a challenge encouraging locals to make vegan dishes and post pictures of them online as part of a competition.

It will reward several entrants with prizes and has proved popular with residents, who are still being urged to stay at home while restaurants remain closed for dining because of the COVID-19 restrictions. 

"It's not only for vegans, we ask people to try vegan food for one day and we hope that if they like it, in the future they will eat more [of it]," said the competition organizer Csaba Toth, head of climate protection for Budapest's VII District.

Vegan culture is growing across the country and it is hoped sharing dishes and recipes will encourage more people to think about what they are eating and make environmentally informed decisions. 

Csongor Kiripolszky, owner of Szabad Bistro, has seen an increase in the number of people wanting to try vegan food in the capital. 

"More and more research is proving how much the meat, dairy and related livestock industries are putting a strain on the Earth through emissions or the deforestation of rainforests," he said. 


Smaller carbon footprint

On the other side of the city, another business is encouraging customers to think about reusing items, rather than buying something new and creating more waste. 

Mihaly Sarkozy's family started Mountex, a multi-brand outdoor retail company, in Budapest more than 30 years ago, selling outdoor equipment and apparel. 

The business offered a repair service when it was first set up, so three decades later Sarkozy has brought back the concept, setting up a repairs corner in one of their stores where items can be patched up and reworn for years to come, making a unique fashion statement. 

"You have a patch on it or you have a different color of the patch, he explains. "It gets more unique and more cool, so this is something that is very special about wearing a product that is repaired." 

Throughout the pandemic, the business has seen a major increase in people taking up hiking. 

They are hoping to extend their repairs service and increase sales of recycled garments, encouraging customers to enjoy the great outdoors but leaving a smaller carbon footprint.

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