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Oxford City Council unanimously supports motion on plant-based food and sustainable farming

Updated: Mar 24, 2023

On Monday 20th March at the Full Council meeting of Oxford City Council, a motion [1] ensuring that food provided for internal councillor events is entirely plant-based was unanimously supported.

  • The council will work with local farmers to encourage more plant-based local produce, and will support community groups to form a plant-based localised free food service.

  • Local supporters of the Plant-Based Councils campaign [2] say this is the logical and necessary next step after declaring a climate emergency.

  • This follows Oxfordshire County Council and City Councils in Cambridge, Exeter and Norwich which have also made commitments to plant-based catering.

  • On the same day, the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) synthesis report was issued, stressing that choices made by consumers can achieve significant cuts in emissions and identifying a plant-based diet as the most sustainable.[3]

Labour Councillor Paula Dunne proposed the motion asking the council to lead by example with the food it serves at future council events. She said at the meeting:

“In the UK we eat twice as much meat and dairy as the global average which is not sustainable on a finite planet, as there is not enough land in the world to meet this demand. The rate at which we are eating meat and dairy is the leading cause of modern species extinctions.”

Dr Nicola Smith, of Plant-Based Health Professionals [4], contributed medical information to support the motion.

“There is substantial evidence that a plant-based diet can benefit individual health … Oxford City Council has the opportunity to model best-practice for the local population. By demonstrating that plant-based eating can be delicious, nutritious, and the new standard, there is the potential to improve the health of the community, move towards a more sustainable future, and inspire widespread change.”

Linda Newbery, a local resident and campaign coordinator with Plant-Based Councils, who was at Monday's meeting, said:

"It was hugely encouraging that the debate was so well-informed, responsible and logical. The unanimous vote shows that every Oxford City councillor recognises the importance of a shift in dietary patterns. Many people still don't realise that their food choices have a big impact on their personal carbon footprints - we need councils to raise awareness and show how easy it can be to eat more sustainably."

Support also came from Cllr Ian Middleton (Green Party) of Oxfordshire County Council, who saw through the similar motion passed there in December 2021. Cllr Middleton said:

“Neither the county council policy nor Cllr Dunne’s motion seeks to restrict what people eat in their daily lives - that will always remain their personal choice. Equally it’s every councillor’s choice to eat what they want. The only difference is that our councils will not be actively offering non-plant-based options. Instead they will be setting an example by showing that even a small reduction in the consumption of meat and dairy can have a big impact on climate change and public health.”

The Oxford City Council motion follows encouragement from the Plant-Based Councils campaign, requesting that Oxford City 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.

Similar motions have been carried by other councils across the UK 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 to menus at council-run external sites such as leisure centres, and to showcase plant-based foods at external events. This follows the 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].

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.


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[1] Plant-Based Food and Sustainable Farming motion:

Recording of Full Council 20th March 2023:

[2] 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.

[3] IPCC Synthesis Report - released 20th March 2023 (page 31)

[4] Plant-Based Health Professionals provides education and advocacy on whole food plant-based nutrition, for the prevention and treatment of chronic disease, as well as for supporting planetary health.

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

[6] Oxfordshire County Council votes to serve fully plant-based food at all council catered events

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