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, and the council is offering low-cost vegan cookery classes to parents and children. In addition, Lewisham 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 other UK councils have taken similar action.
For example, Hythe and Faversham Town Councils in Kent serve only vegan food at their events.
“I always believe in leading by example and bringing the Climate emergency to the forefront of the council’s priorities was a strong drive for me and something I am very proud to be a part of. There are many changes that we, as a council, can do to work towards carbon neutrality and encouraging and inspiring the wider community to make positive changes. Adopting 100% plant based catering for Town Council event’s is a really important step to achieve our targets and I am pleased to have been a part of this debate.”
– Cllr Chris Williams, chair of the Climate and Biodiversity Committee, Faversham Town Council
“I am delighted that Hythe Town Council has taken the logical step of becoming plant-based for all future functions, in line with our unanimously supported Climate and Ecological Emergency declaration. We are seeking to take a leadership role, as advocated of local authorities by the UK’s Committee on Climate Change. The science speaks for itself – a plant-based diet significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions, with consumption of meat and dairy fueling global warming and habitat destruction, including of rain forests for feed and grazing. This was an obvious, easy, sensible and cost free step to take.”
– Cllr Martin Whybrow, Hythe Town Council
Leeds City Council has pledged to offer more vegan meals and have two meat-free days a week in 182 primary schools. Its plans form part of measures to halve the city’s carbon emissions by 2025.
Other councils have held debates on the role of vegan eating in tackling climate change, are serving more vegan options, or offer only meat-free food at their events, facilities, and buildings. Some are advising residents on adding more plant-based foods to their diets and are facilitating local vegetable-growing projects. PETA supports councils in taking these steps with a practical guide including case studies and tailored advice.
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.
- Berkeley, California: The council has set a goal of serving 50% vegan food at City of Berkeley facilities by 2024. This applies to food served in government buildings and at public events, and the council has resolved to adopt a goal of serving 100% vegan food pending a review.
“Streamlining the City of Berkeley’s transition to plant-forward and plant-based meals advances the City’s Strategic Plan Priority of being a global leader in addressing climate change, advancing environmental justice, and protecting the environment ….”
– City of Berkeley
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.