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Bath & NE Somerset Council urged to act to promote plant-based diets

  • On 21/09/23 at the Full Council of Bath & NE Somerset Council, a local resident and supporter of the Plant-Based Councils campaign [1] urged the council to meet to discuss the need to support a move towards healthy plant-based diets for Bath citizens.

  • This follows Exeter City Council’s vote last year to promote the benefits of plant-based food, following councils in Oxfordshire, Cambridge and Norwich City.

  • This comes as the Vegan Society publishes a landmark report rating councils according to their recognition of their responsibility to cater to vegans.

Bath resident, Matt Cooper, attended a full council meeting for Bath & North East Somerset Council on Thursday 21/09/23 [2], to urge the council to include food provision in their climate considerations.

Mr Cooper read a statement at the meeting in the council chamber in the Guildhall, requesting that the council follows other councils around the country which are promoting the benefits of healthy plant-based eating, which he says is the logical and necessary next step after having declared a climate emergency.

Mr Cooper asked councillors to meet with him to discuss concerns they may have and to hear how supporting a move towards plant-based diets could be a huge win for health, sustainability and budget.

In his statement, he said:

“The science is clear that meat and dairy are major contributors to the climate and ecological emergencies, and it has been said that switching to a plant-based diet is the single most effective [3] thing an individual can do to reduce their impact on the planet. The amount of research on this over the years is now vast.”

Mr Cooper urged BaNES Council to prioritise plant-based options:

“... it’s not always easy for individuals to change their diets when they’re surrounded by menus that are heavily biased towards meat and dairy options. This Council has the opportunity – and I think, the duty – to simply prioritise plant-based food options wherever they can, treating the climate emergency with the urgency it requires.”

“Many other councils around the country have already passed motions which raise awareness of the benefits of eating more plant-based foods and have voted to lead by example, by ensuring that all food provided at internal events is plant-based. Even if this only applies to refreshments at a very small number of events per year, it is a small step that sends a powerful message, and helps to normalise plant-based eating.”

Council Leader Kevin Guy asked if Mr Cooper would meet with Sarah Warren, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Climate Emergency and Sustainable Travel.

Councillor Joanna Wright asked which other councils had made a commitment to plant-based catering. Mr Cooper answered that 12 councils including Oxfordshire, Exeter and Norwich had taken a variety of measures either to promote plant-based catering, or to move away from meat in their own internal catering.

In December last year, Exeter City Council [4] voted to serve only plant-based foods at council meetings and events. Exeter City Council also plans to introduce more plant-based options onto menus at council-run external sites such as leisure centres, and to showcase plant-based foods at external events. A similar motion carried at Oxford City Council [5] earlier this year asked the council to work with local farmers to support their move to create more plant-based produce, and establish a plant-based free food service, to help tackle the cost of living crisis.

A landmark report, published today by the Vegan Society [6], rates BaNES Council as ‘amber’ in a heatmap of UK councils, meaning “the council has taken only limited steps to be inclusive of veganism and to address meat and dairy consumption”. The Vegan Society is calling for a guaranteed plant-based option on all public sector menus to meet health and environmental goals.

The Plant-Based Councils campaign believes that local authorities have an opportunity and a duty to lead the way in normalising plant-based eating, which is necessary if we are to tackle the climate and ecological emergencies. Councils can reduce their own emissions by procuring more plant-based foods, and can address both the health and cost-of-living crises by encouraging residents to adopt healthier and cheaper ways of eating.


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[1] The Plant-Based Councils campaign aims to address the climate emergency starting with the food on our plates. Working with councils across the UK to encourage them to lead the way in the switch from emission heavy foods to plant-based ones that are better for health, our planet and reducing the impact from the cost of living crisis.

[2] BaNES Full Council meeting 21.09.23 (agenda & webcast)

[3] “switching to a plant-based diet is the single most effective thing an individual can do to reduce their impact on the planet”

[4] Exeter City Council votes to serve 100% plant-based food at catered meetings

[5] Motion on Plant-Based Food and Sustainable Farming, Oxford City Council

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