Councils Go Vegan – in the UK and Worldwide
Councils around the world are taking action to tackle the climate emergency and going vegan.
Lewisham Council Goes Vegan
In 2020, London’s Lewisham Council voted to offer only vegan food at all council events. Vegan options will also be expanded in schools, where there will be an extra meat-free day each week. In addition, the council plans to use eco-friendly vegan building materials, such as wool-free insulation, for council houses.
These progressive initiatives were put forward by PETA supporter Councillor Paul Bell, who is vegan, and his colleague Councillor Sophie McGeevor. The measures are part of the Lewisham Climate Emergency Strategic Action Plan 2020–2030.
“Lewisham Council‘s Climate Emergency Action Plan commits us to doing everything in our power to be carbon neutral by 2030. We are switching to vegan catering at all of our corporate events because we want to encourage our residents, partners and staff to consider the environmental impact of the food on their plates.
As with many of the lifestyle changes we all need to make to protect our planet and future generations, there are lots of co-benefits for our health that come with switching to a vegan diet, or just reducing meat and dairy in our diets.“
– Councillor Sophie McGeevor, Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, Lewisham Council
Other UK Councils Are Going Vegan
This progress by Lewisham Council is part of a wider movement to address the climate emergency, and two other UK councils have taken similar action. Faversham Town Council in Kent is serving only vegan food at council events. And Leeds City Council has pledged to offer more vegan meals and have two meat-free days in 182 primary schools.
Its plans form part of measures to halve carbon emissions in the city by 2025. Many other councils have held debates on the role of vegan eating in tackling climate change.
“The aim is to reduce the city‘s carbon footprint and ensure that pupils enjoy even healthier meals with extra vegetable content.“
– Leeds City Council
Councils Around the World
- Amsterdam: The city council will serve vegetarian food by default at all its events, thanks to an initiative put forward by council member Johnas van Lammeren of the Party for the Animals.
- Helsinki: The council has created a website and app called Think Sustainably, which city residents and visitors can use to find restaurants and cafés serving vegan food.
“The biggest positive impact on one‘s carbon footprint comes from a fully vegan diet. The carbon footprint of cheese is close to that of meat.“
– Satu Lähteenoja, Senior Expert, Demos Helsinki
- Kelowna, Canada: The mayor of Kelowna organises a Vegan Awareness Week each year in May.
- New York: In the Big Apple, 1,700 schools take part in Meat Free Monday, some hospitals have plant-based programmes, and a variety of other meat-reduction initiatives are planned through the OneNYC 2050 Green New Deal. Other cities have signed the deal, which aims to increase the consumption of plant-based foods.
Plant-based foods have the smallest carbon footprints, which means eating vegan helps protect our climate. Producing meat, fish, eggs, cheese, and milk emits more greenhouse gases than producing their plant-based equivalents does. Animal–exploiting industries are also major contributors to Amazon rainforest fires, deforestation, drought, and water and air pollution. Going vegan is a win for the environment.
Vegan food initiatives also prevent cows, pigs, chickens, sheep, fish, and other sensitive animals from enduring a life of misery and suffering on crowded, filthy farms. All animals feel pain, love, and joy, and they value their lives, just as humans do. None of them go willingly to slaughter.
Contact your local councillors and explain why they should call for only vegan food to be served at all council events.
Not Vegan Yet?
From deadly viruses to the bushfires and rainforest blazes fuelled by the climate crisis, eating animals has near-apocalyptic consequences. The best thing you can do for your own health and the world we live in is to go vegan right now.