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"Normalise Plant-Based Eating": Devon County Council Given Presentation


Plant-Based Councils campaigners outside the council building with a banner and placards.


  • On 23/05/24 at the Full Council of Devon County Council, a local resident and supporter of the Plant-Based Councils campaign, Catherine Sleigh, asked the council to increase and prioritise plant-based menu options in external sites where they have influence, e.g. schools, leisure centres, public cafes [1].

  • This comes just two weeks after The Guardian reported that hundreds of the world’s leading climate scientists expect global temperatures to rise to at least 2.5C above pre-industrial levels this century, causing disastrous consequences for humanity [2].

  • Several councils across the UK have passed motions setting out that they will increase and prioritise plant-based menu options in external sites they have an influence over in order to lower their emissions output, including Exeter City Council which made the switch in December 2022 [3] [4]. 


On Thursday 23/05/24, Catherine Sleigh from Topsham, delivered a three minute presentation to Full Council [5]. She stated: 


“If we hear what climate scientists are consistently telling us, then it is vital that we move to plant-based food systems. Last year’s Oxford University detailed analysis of UK diets found that the least sustainable plant-based diet is always more environmentally friendly than the most sustainable meat-based diet in terms of emissions, water and land use . 


If the world transitioned to plant based food systems, 75% of global farmland could return to nature, bringing back trees, habitats, animals, insects and birds and naturally draw down carbon to bring our rising temperatures down. In addition there would be enough food for everyone and food security for all.” [6] [7]


Sleigh is a local campaigner for Plant-Based Councils, a national campaign that calls on councils to switch to 100% plant-based catering for their own internal meetings and events and that they take measures to promote plant-based eating to residents [1]. 


Sleigh stated that leadership from the council is needed to help normalise plant-based food, and explained that the council can do this by increasing and prioritising plant-based menu options wherever the council has influence, e.g. schools, leisure centres and public cafes.


Several other residents attended the meeting in support with a banner and placards. The group has also been busy collecting signatures for a petition to get Devon County Council to show climate leadership by switching to 100% plant-based catering. They collected over 100 paper signatures at Pride last week. Local residents can also sign online here: https://www.change.org/p/turn-devon-council-s-catering-plant-based-to-reach-climate-goals 


Plant-Based Councils, an Animal Rising campaign, is a national initiative of local residents who are pushing for their councils to adopt 100% plant-based catering [1]. The group claims that local authorities have a responsibility to follow the current scientific consensus, which acknowledges the environmental, health and cost benefits of plant-based meals over those containing meat and dairy. The campaign is active in over 45 councils, with the group encouraging interested residents to sign up to run a local campaign.


ENDS.


Word Count: 482


For more information or further comments, please contact press@plantbasedcouncils.org.


NOTES TO EDITORS:

[1] The Plant-Based Councils campaign aims to address the climate emergency, starting with the food on our plates; working with UK councils to encourage the switch from emission-heavy food to plant-based options which are better for our health, the planet, and reducing the impact of the cost of living crisis.



[3] Councils go vegan - in the UK and worldwide:  https://www.peta.org.uk/blog/vegan-councils/


[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/


[5] Devon County Council, meeting of full council, 23rd May 2024: agenda, public forum document, and recording.     


[6] ‘Vegan diet has just 30% of the environmental impact of a high-meat diet’ - https://www.medsci.ox.ac.uk/news/vegan-diet-has-just-30-of-the-environmental-impact-of-a-high-meat-diet-major-study-finds 


[7] ‘If the world adopted a plant-based diet, we would reduce global agricultural land use from 4 to 1 billion hectares’ - https://ourworldindata.org/land-use-diets#:~:text=Research%20suggests%20that%20if%20everyone,for%20land%20to%20grow%20crops 




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