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Camden Council hears deputation from resident asking that food provided at events is plant-based



  • On 27/02/23 at the Full Council meeting of Camden Borough, a local resident and supporter of the Plant-Based Councils campaign [1] gave a deputation asking the council to ensure that any food or drink provided at council meetings and events is entirely plant-based, as the logical and necessary next step after declaring a climate emergency.

  • Local resident Cat Jacob said this would be a positive and forward thinking step, bringing the council’s food policy into line with other climate aware policies.

  • In response, Cabinet Member for a Sustainable Camden, Councillor Adam Harrison, said this was something he’d be very happy to look into in more detail.

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


Camden resident, Cat Jacob, attended a full council meeting of Camden Borough Council on 27th February 2023 [2], to give a deputation asking the council to lead by example on the climate emergency, by ensuring that food provided for future internal meetings and events is fully plant-based.


Local surveyor, Cat Jacob, who spoke on behalf of residents concerned about the impact of our food choices on the climate and ecological emergency, gave the deputation at the meeting at the Council Chamber on Eversholt Street. She requested that the council follows other councils around the country in promoting healthy plant-based eating as the logical and necessary next step after having declared a climate emergency. She said:

“On the council’s own website, residents are told that the number one thing they can do to cut CO2 emissions is to ‘eat less meat and dairy produce. Our ask is that Camden council follow through on the recommendations provided in its own reports by committing to serve only plant-based fare at catered meetings and events for which it is responsible.”


“The council has the opportunity to lead the way for its residents to take up plant-based eating habits themselves, which is a necessary step in addressing the climate and ecological emergency. Not only will this reduce the council’s and borough-wide emissions, it will also reduce freshwater usage, prevent land-use change such as deforestation, and reduce destruction of biodiversity.”


In his official response as Cabinet Member for a Sustainable Camden, Councillor Adam Harrison said:

“This is a really important issue for the reasons you identify [...] We have made progress on this in recent years. For example, we work with the refugee community kitchen to deliver catering, and we deliver catering for climate related events such as our community focused sharing space events throughout Camden. All of that catering is plant-based. [...] The request for a full switch to plant-only options is something that will require further consideration with buyers than we’ve been able to give in the last few days, but it’s something I’ll be happy to look into in greater detail and get back to you.”


Councillor Umeadi, who represents the Kilburn ward, raised concerns around the cost of some plant-based foods, saying:

“So I do understand what point you are trying to make but it’s in the middle of a cost of living crisis. It is cheaper to eat chicken and chips. That’s £1.99 or £2.50, compared to a healthy veggie meal that costs more to buy fruit and veg.”


Ms Jacob responded that she would engage with concerns such as these in more detail by email. According to a study by Oxford University, adopting a vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian diet could cut your food bills by up to a third. [4]


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 [5] 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 onto menus at council-run external sites such as leisure centres, and to showcase plant-based foods at external events. This follows the successful motion that was passed at Oxfordshire County Council in 2021 to serve fully plant based food and drink at all catered meetings and events [6].


ENDS.

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] Oxford University study: Sustainable eating is cheaper and healthier: https://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2021-11-11-sustainable-eating-cheaper-and-healthier-oxford-study


[5] 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/


[6] Oxfordshire County Council votes to serve fully plant-based food at all council-catered events https://news.oxfordshire.gov.uk/plant-based-food/


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