by Maya Moritz
If you want variety in your activism, look no further than Extinction Rebellion, referred to as XR. The Mannheim chapter’s social media exhibits activists in a makeshift tree, protesting directly outside of gas companies, and hosting die-ins dressed as threatened animal species.
As part of our continuing Green Series on the eco-conscious groups and initiatives in Mannheim, we spoke to Sophie, a Business Informatics student at Universität Mannheim and an active member of the local Extinction Rebellion chapter.
Sophie speaks expertly about the group’s goals, the urgent need for change, and valuable resources for students ready to join the rebellion.
Extinction Rebellion appended that they are “a decentral movement and not an organisation,” emphasizing that Sophie’s remarks are an “individual statement from a person who is involved in the XR movement” and therefore a “personal opinion – never a statement which applies for everybody active in XR.”
Extinction Rebellion’s next virtual onboarding will be on June 21, 2021 at 17:00. You can find more information here.
How would you explain Extinction Rebellion? What do you do and what events/programs do you offer?
XR is a climate activism group that was originally founded in the UK back in 2018 and is now present in many different countries all around the globe.
We have many different forms of protesting with the goal to make participation possible for everyone. Our central way of protest is civil disobedience which is the non-violent refusal to obey certain laws in order to address the government that we can’t continue like that if we want to stop the climate crisis.
What are some of Extinction Rebellion’s initiatives?
We have three central demands:
1. Tell the truth: The Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
2. Act now: The Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
3. Go beyond politics: The Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.
We are trying to address the Government in our actions since they are the ones making decisions that affect not only the country they are leading but also the whole world if we look at the consequences of climate change.
Do you have any initiatives or ideas relating to plant-based diets or eco-conscious eating?
So every year there is Veganuary which is motivating people to eat plant-based for one month. They offer a lot of information with recipes and nutrition advice and even though most people join in January, it can also be completed during any other month.
There are also quite a few tests on the internet that calculate your “Foodprint” which can be a great first step to be more conscious about eating habits.
At XR Mannheim we have started offering online cooking classes where people can learn how to cook delicious vegan food with local and seasonal ingredients.
Do you think Mannheim is a green or eco-conscious city? What about the Mannheim University or the student body?
A lot of people in Mannheim are starting to acknowledge the consequences of the climate crisis and there are a lot of great initiatives both at the University and in the city in general. The reason these people are active is because there is not enough happening on and off campus.
For example at the canteen of the University there is still no vegan option every day [Keep an eye out for bAStA’s upcoming article on the University’s efforts to introduce a permanent vegan choice].
If we take a look at the bigger picture there is the GKM which is the biggest coal plant in Baden-Württemberg where coal exit plans are still moving very slowly. The fact, that the downtown area of Mannheim isn’t car-free yet also shows that the government isn’t doing enough.
So yes, there are many people working on a way to stay below 1.5°C , but I miss consequent government action, not only in Mannheim but in most other cities as well.
What are your opinions on veganism and plant-based eating? Do you practice it yourself?
I think veganism it is a big step to reduce the personal ecological footprint which is part of the reason why I am vegan myself. “The production of 1 kg beef causes about 13.3 kg of CO2. The same quantity of CO2 is released when you burn about 6 liters of petrol” In comparison: 1kg of apples only emits 550g of CO2 (source).
I still think that it is important to acknowledge that being able to invest a lot of time into nutrition is a privilege and it is important to stay away from blaming people who are not vegan. Every step away from animal products is a good one and as always it is important to have many people do little steps.
How can people get involved with Extinction Rebellion?
We have introductory meetings once a month where people can learn both about the facts associated with the climate crisis and about the structures of XR. These meetings are usually held in German, but I am sure we could arrange one in English upon request.
Do you have any plant-based/green recommendations in Mannheim (restaurants, stores, parks, etc.)?
Café Rost currently offers a variety of vegan dishes for take-out. They change their menu through the seasons to be able to use seasonal ingredients.
Com Chay is a fully vegan restaurant with southeast Asian kitchen. They are currently open for delivery.
Çiğköftem is great, if you are at the train station and are looking for a quick lunch option. I am sure there are many other restaurants in Mannheim that offer vegan options, these three are just the first ones that popped up in my head.
The app “HappyCow” shows a map with vegan/vegetarian options around you which is especially helpful if one is new to the city. Vegan in Mannheim on Instagram gives a great overview as well.