Politics & Law

Mayor of Worcester Removes Meat From Menu at Council Receptions

The mayor of the UK city of Worcester has announced that meat will no longer be served at council receptions, which are held in the mayor’s parlour after long meetings to offer refreshments to councillors.

As reported by the BBC, Worcester’s first Green Party mayor, Councillor Louis Stephen, said he was making the change to raise awareness of the lower carbon footprint of plant-based diets. He added that meat-free meals are inclusive as they are suitable for everyone, including those from non-Christian religions who may not be able to eat some or all types of meat. The decision only applies to receptions, and wider council events will be unaffected.

However, the change has attracted protests from one Conservative councillor. At a full city council meeting, Alan Amos argued that the decision was “discriminatory” against meat-eaters and went against the council’s equality and diversity policy. Green councillor Marjory Bisset, joint leader of the city council, disagreed.

“I do not think not being able to eat meat at a particular event is a diversity and equality issue,” she said. “There are only six such meetings a year, is it really such an imposition to be deprived of meat on these six occasions?”

A collection of plant based foods
Image courtesy of Vegtech Invest

Councils go plant-based

Some other local authorities around the UK are also embracing plant-based diets to help address climate change. In 2022, Oxfordshire became the first UK county council to host entirely vegan meetings and events. Plant-based options were also added to the menu at some schools in the county.

A year later, Oxford City Council followed suit, voting to serve only vegan food at internal council events. The motion was unanimously approved following lobbying from the Plant-Based Councils campaign.

Five UK councils have also endorsed the global Plant Based Treaty — Edinburgh, Norwich, Lambeth, Haywards Heath, and most recently Exmouth. The treaty aims to put plant-based diets at the heart of combating the climate crisis.

“Switching to an increasingly plant-based diet is the simplest and one of the most effective actions we can take to reduce our carbon emissions,” said Louise Venables, Exmouth resident and town councillor. “Plant-based diets can also improve health, remedy biodiversity, improve animal welfare, and be financially beneficial.”

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