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Bolsover District Council asked to amend Carbon Reduction Plan to include plant-based food provision


  • On 11/10/23 at the Full Council of Bolsover District Council, a local resident and supporter of the Plant-Based Councils Campaign [1] asked the council to take action on food policy and to meet with them to discuss how plant-based food should be promoted to help tackle the climate emergency.

  • Sarah Foy, a Charity Worker, said that “The Council’s Carbon Reduction Plan has an objective to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. However, this awareness needs to include every aspect of council activities, including the provision of food, which is currently omitted from the plan.”

  • This question follows councils elsewhere passing motions committing to plant-based catering, such as Oxfordshire, Cambridge City and Exeter City.


South Normanton resident, Sarah Foy, attended a full council meeting for Bolsover District Council on Wednesday 11/10/23 [2], to ask the council to lead by example and ensure any catering provided at internal council events is plant-based. She was requesting that Bolsover District Council follows the lead of other councils around the country by promoting healthy plant-based eating as the logical and necessary next step after having declared a climate emergency.


Sarah Foy read her question out at the meeting [3]:

“Hello. My name is Sarah Foy, I’m a charity worker and I live in South Normanton.
Bolsover prides itself on being one of the more forward thinking districts in the UK and has put climate considerations at the heart of governance. The Council’s Carbon Reduction Plan has an objective to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 and 80% by 2050.
However, this awareness needs to include every aspect of council activities, including the provision of food, which is currently omitted from the plan. The science is clear that meat and dairy are major contributors to the climate and ecological emergencies. Other councils, for example Oxfordshire County Council, Oxford City, Cambridge City, Exeter City and the London Borough of Lewisham are ensuring that all food and drink provided at events is plant-based, and I’d like Bolsover District Council to do the same.
This is the logical & necessary next step to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, of carbon as well as methane and nitrogen. It will help normalise plant-based eating, which according to an Oxford University study, is the single most effective thing an individual can do to reduce their environmental impact.
There have been substantial evidence-based recommendations calling for a move away from meat and dairy. The review of the National Food Strategy, led by Henry Dimbleby in 2021, recommended a reduction in meat and dairy of 30% within ten years, and that food provided in the public sector should be plant-based by default. If we are to achieve even this modest target, we need public organisations to lead the way. The government failed to implement these recommendations, and is now facing a legal challenge with lawyers arguing that its failure to adopt measures to reduce meat and dairy production and consumption is unlawful. A new Oxford University study published in July 2023 shows that the environmental impact of a meat-diet is far higher than one which is plant-based.
We are currently in a cost of living crisis. Meat and dairy products are almost always the most expensive part of a meal - whole food plant-based meals are considerably cheaper. By doing the right thing for the planet, and promoting eating for good health, the council can also save money by serving more plant-based foods. We can and must move away from meat and dairy, towards climate-friendly eating, and I believe councils can lead the way with this.
I understand that this council does not regularly serve food at meetings, so the main change this council can implement is to exclusively serve plant milk for tea and coffee offered at meetings. Oat milk uses 13 times less water, 11 times less land,and creates 3.5 times less emissions than dairy milk. I would also ask at events where food is served, for it to be exclusively plant based.
Therefore, given the Climate and Ecological Emergency and Bolsover’s stated aim to reduce their emissions, will Bolsover District Council ensure that all food and drink provided at internal events is fully plant-based, as other councils have done?
This will be a small, but positive and forward-thinking step that sends a powerful message, bringing our food policy into line with other climate-aware policies. Thank you.”

Councillor Anne Clarke, Environment Portfolio Holder, responded to the question by saying:

“Thank you Sarah for your question.
Bolsover District Council considers that both customers and guests attending Bolsover District Council meetings are provided with a choice. The cafe currently stocks both dairy products as well as oat-based alternatives. Vegetarians and vegans are fully catered for, as well as those that have dietary intolerances.
Bolsover District Council will make people attending Bolsover District Council meetings aware that oat-based alternatives are available. This will now be monitored so this will allow Bolsover District Council to actually see what the demand is.”

Following this Ms Foy then asked a supplementary question, querying if Cllr Clarke would meet with her to discuss the changes that could be implemented by Bolsover, to which she agreed.


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 emergency. 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.


Similar questions have been asked of other councils across the UK and motions have been carried by progressive councils such as Exeter City Council [4] which, in December last year, voted to serve only plant-based foods at council meetings and events. Exeter City Council also plans to introduce more plant-based options to menus at council-run external sites such as leisure centres, and to showcase plant-based foods at external events.


This September 650 academics [5] called on British universities to adopt 100% plant-based catering to fight the climate emergency by signing an Open Letter to university Vice Chancellors.


ENDS.


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For more information or further comments, please contact plantbasedcouncils@gmail.com


NOTES TO EDITORS:


[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. https://twitter.com/PBCouncils




[4] Exeter City Council votes to serve 100% plant-based food at catered meetings https://news.exeter.gov.uk/council-pledges-to-raise-awareness-of-the-benefits-of-plant-based-food/


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