Row over Oxfordshire council vegan-only rule: Uproar as Green Party BANS meat and will serve only plant-based food at official events
- Row has erupted between Oxfordshire County Councillors over vegan meals
- Motion passed last week by the ruling Liberal Democrat and Green Alliance
- The move will see the offering of meat or dairy at future meals prohibited
Councillors have been left outraged after a ruling was passed that only vegan meals should be served at official events and feasts.
The row between county councillors in Oxfordshire erupted after the ruling Liberal Democrat and Green Alliance passed a policy prohibiting the offering of meat or dairy at future events.
The move, which will apply to the meals which are provided to the council six times a year, comes after a report from the government’s Climate Change Committee urged the nation to cut their meat and dairy intake by a fifth to combat climate change.
But it has since been blasted by opposition councillors, with some calling the orders ‘wrong’ and others saying veganism ‘is not something that should be rammed down the throats of vegetarians and meat-eaters’.
The row between county councillors in Oxfordshire came after the Liberal Democrat and Green Alliance passed a policy prohibiting the offering of meat or dairy. Pictured: County Hall in Oxford
Tory councillor David Bartholomew, who represents Sonning Common, called the orders dictatorial.
He said: ‘The Conservative opposition believes that veganism is a choice that should be respected but it is not something that should be rammed down the throats of vegetarian and meat-eaters. A carrot not a stick approach should be employed.’
And independent county councillor for Henley-on-Thames, Stefan Gawrysiak, said: ‘For the council to actually force all catering to become plant-based is wrong. It has got to be gradual.’
The motion, which was passed last week, was put forward by Green Party councillor Ian Middleton, who wanted to ensure all Oxfordshire County Council meetings were ‘entirely plant-based’.
The policy also called for ‘targeted education in schools on dietary health, food growing, preparation and waste avoidance and for the county school meals service to make fully plant-based menus available to schools that ask for them’.
Councillor Middleton, who is vegan, said the government had advised that meat and dairy consumption should be reduced by a fifth and that the county council ‘should be embracing the opportunity to set an example’.
He said: ‘We need to get people to reduce consumption of meat. Meals are provided to council six times a year. I felt that we should be embracing the opportunity to set an example and send the message out.
‘I’d have thought that anyone with a genuine concern about the future of the ecosphere would see that as a pretty modest sacrifice for the sake of future generations.
‘I’m not suggesting that all councillors should become vegan but just that on those occasions food provided by the council should be plant-based.
‘Councillors who don’t want to eat it don’t have to eat in the council chamber. It’s been hard work getting this motion to the council but I’m very pleased that it’s finally been passed.
‘We now join several other authorities who have passed similar motions, but I believe we’re the first county council to do so.
‘No one is taking away free choice, these changes will only affect those who wish to avail themselves of food provided by the council. What members do outside the council walls is their own affair.
The move was put forward by Green Party councillor Ian Middleton, who wanted to ensure all county council meetings were ‘entirely plant-based’. (Stock image)
The policy comes after a report from the government’s Climate Change Committee urged the nation to cut their meat and dairy intake by a fifth to combat climate change. (Stock image)
‘This was a democratic decision taken on a collective basis which simply says that the council should be promoting healthy, plant-based foods in the face of evidence about the damage being done on a global scale by intensive meat and dairy production both in terms of climate change and public health.
‘We also wanted to highlight how local small scale farms in Oxfordshire were moving increasingly towards sustainable practices, encouraging a more direct local link between consumers and the food we buy.
‘These are not choices we’re making for ourselves, but for future generations.
‘This is a very minor change that sends a powerful message to the people we represent that we take tackling climate change seriously and are prepared to play our part as community leaders.’
Last year a report from the government’s Climate Change Committee laid out a swathe of measures to slash emissions over the next 15 years.
It urged moves including halting sales of gas boilers by 2033, banning new fossil-fuelled cars – including hybrids – by 2032, and encouraging people to cut the amount of meat and dairy they eat by a fifth in the next decade.
The report found cutting the number of livestock would help to reduce greenhouse gases that are linked to global warming.
It suggested families should move away from meat and dairy, helping to reduce livestock numbers, by choosing ‘plant-based options’ – and one day even meat grown in a laboratory.
The report stated that modelling by experts at Oxford University meant meeting the government’s targets ‘would require an average reduction in the consumption of meat by around 89 per cent for beef, 66 per cent for pork and 63 per cent for lamb, and a 20 per cent reduction in dairy products.’
It also said: ‘Consuming more of a plant-based diet can reduce non-communicable diseases like diabetes, heart disease and a range of dietary-related cancers, which in turn can lower the risk of developing severe complications from Covid-19.’
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