June 9 - Chinese actress Gao Yuanyuan blossoms in a gown made of lettuce to promote a greener, vegetarian diet in China. Gemma Haines reports.
This dress is good enough eat. As meat consumption continues to rise, animal rights group PETA is trying to encourage consumers to go vegetarian. Chinese actress Gao Yuanyuan is draped in a gown made of lettuce leaves, with a necklace of red chilli peppers. The look says it all: vegetarianism is sexy. SOUNDBITE: Gao Yuanyuan, actress, saying (Mandarin) "After going vegetarian, I feel so much lighter. When I first started the vegetarian diet, I was not used to it and so I ate starchy foods in big amounts so I gained a little bit of weight. Still, I felt much more energetic. After that, I regained my figure and stopped gaining weight, and that has remained consistent." Chinese, historically, have maintained a vegetable heavy diet, but as incomes and living standards rise among the country's growing middle class, people are eating more meat. On average, each person consumes 55 kilograms each year. PETA's Jason Baker says China's carnivorous consumption has quadrupled over the last four decades, resulting in health problems. SOUNDBITE: Jason Baker, PETA Asia vice-president, saying (English) "The per capita consumption in China is still lower compared to the Western world, but it's changing - it's getting worse. The consumption is going up, and related to that so are diseases related to meat consumption - cancer, heart disease. Additionally, the industry is changing. You now have industrialized factory farms like you never had in China before." Meat-eaters have yet to be convinced. SOUNDBITE: Ms. Wang, Beijing resident, saying (Mandarin) "I think going vegetarian doesn't always equal health. You still need to have both meat and vegetables to have a balanced diet. If you only eat vegetables, there's bound to be some lack in your dietary requirements." Balance, they say, is key. Gemma Haines, Reuters.