I actually had to put my fingers to my computer screen to block out the recent New York Times photos of children starving in Yemen. I couldn’t even look at the life that a human being – no, a child – was forced to suffer.

The same week, I read the statistic that if everyone on the planet became a vegetarian, we’d cut 63 percent of all food-related greenhouse gas emissions. I can’t take a bike to work, alas. Or afford to turn my 1890s farmhouse into a net-zero energy home. Not eating meat, though, is such an easy assist. So easy that I wonder why everyone doesn’t just do it.

Then I thought of Portland’s recent designation as Restaurant City of the Year by Bon Appetit. OK, thank you. We know we are pretty fabulous in that regard.

We also happen to be a city with largely progressive values. Which made me think, OK, restaurateurs, here’s a challenge for you: What if you try to do good? Not just the occasional fundraiser, say, through Full Plates Full Potential. What if you go vegetarian? Not strictly, but largely, simply to help the planet?

What if 80 percent of what you offer on your menus is vegetarian, 10 percent meat and 10 percent fish? What if you just do it because it’s good for the planet and you are talented chefs, and you know how to make delicious food out of what is available. What if you take this as one of those crazy TV food show challenges – but a challenge with a purpose? “Here are the ingredients, now you go!”

Scientists are talking about wide-scale food shortages in our lifetime. What if we had a citywide experiment that dovetailed with the city’s foodie-lifestyle chic and that set an example for the rest of the nation? Maybe it will help.

Debra Spark

North Yarmouth