Bournemouth Civic Centre Photo credit: Mapcarta
On 12/09/23 at the Full Council of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, a local resident and supporter of the Plant-Based Councils campaign  urged the council to ensure that all catering for internal events is climate-friendly plant-based in response to the climate emergency.
On the same day, local residents asked similar questions to councils in Bristol and Birmingham.
This follows BCP Council’s recent U-turn on their decision to introduce fully vegetarian catering at the Durley Chine beach cafe.
Bournemouth resident, Daniel Glennon, attended a full council meeting for BCP Council on Tuesday 12/09/23 , to talk about the impact of animal products on the climate.
Mr Glennon asked a question at the meeting in the council chamber at the BCP Civic Centre, requesting that the council follows other councils around the country in 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 Glennon, a customer service trainer from Bournemouth, told the Full Council:
“The science is clear that meat and dairy are major contributors to the climate and ecological emergencies. Other councils, including Oxfordshire County, Oxford City, Cambridge City, Exeter City & Lewisham Borough, are ensuring that all food provided at events is plant-based. This is the logical & necessary next step after declaring a climate emergency. It helps normalise plant-based eating, which according to an Oxford University study, is the single most effective thing individuals can do to reduce their environmental impact.”
In July this year, a new study was published by researchers from Oxford University  which found that a plant-based diet has just 30% of the environmental impact of a diet high in meat, with a high-meat diet producing 4 times the amount of greenhouse gases, requiring 4 times as much land, and double the amount of water of a plant-based diet.
The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC) both highlight plant-based diets as critical in mitigating global heating.
The Government-commissioned National Food Strategy (2021), led by Henry Dimbleby , recommended that to improve the health and sustainability of our food system a new Reference Diet should be developed, focusing on wholegrains, fruit, vegetables and pulses and that catering provided within the public sector should follow this.
Mr Glennon asked:
“Given the climate & ecological emergencies declared by this council, will Council ensure that all food & drink provided at future internal events is plant-based, as other councils have done? Even if this only applies to refreshments at a very small number of events per year, it will show leadership, & will be a small step that sends a powerful message.”
In response, the Portfolio holder for Climate Response, Environment & Energy Councillor Andy Hadley, said:
"I welcome your challenge. I do believe in leading by example and I agree that changing to a meat & dairy free diet is an important component of reducing our personal carbon footprint. However, we feel we should start by promoting & encouraging rather than mandating plant based options in the first instance.”
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. Rather than mandating diets, councils can reduce their own emissions by ensuring that plant-based foods are the default option for internal catering for councillors, and they can address both the health and cost-of-living crises by encouraging residents to adopt healthier and cheaper ways of eating.
Councillor Hadley continued:
“We are happy to consider the implications of such a decision in the next review of the climate plan, & from a personal perspective I will seek to promote the concept throughout the organisation."
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Glennon said:
“The extreme weather we’ve seen across the world this year is a stark reminder that we cannot delay, I’d love to see BCP Council prioritise the climate impact of our food choices and show real climate leadership.”
In December last year, Exeter City Council  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  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.
Last week, 650 academics from over 50 UK institutions called on British universities to adopt 100% plant-based catering on campuses to fight the climate emergency. 
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NOTES TO EDITORS:
 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.
 Study into environmental impact of various diets, Oxford University, published July 2023 https://www.nature.com/articles/s43016-023-00795-w
 Review of National Food Strategy https://www.nationalfoodstrategy.org/
 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/
 Motion on Plant-Based Food and Sustainable Farming, Oxford City Council https://mycouncil.oxford.gov.uk/mgAi.aspx?ID=35043
 Open Letter to University Vice Chancellors signed by 650 academics