As of December, London’s Enfield Council will only be serving vegetarian or vegan food through its catering services, as part of its climate crisis “action plan”.
Enfield councillor Ian Barnes said the council aims to be carbon neutral by 2030, and to do so means “taking bold and sometimes unpopular action”.
"The [climate] emergency is real and the action to remedy it must be local, national and global," Mr Barnes wrote in the council’s 40-page climate action document.
Lancashire County Council voted in 2018 to ban halal meat from council-supplied school meals – a move that was criticised as Islamophobic and opposed by 65 percent of those consulted – but this is understood to be the first time a local council has banned meat outright from events it organises.
Mo Metcalf-Fisher of the Countryside Alliance criticised the move, telling right-wing blog Guido Fawkes, “Banning meat is completely the wrong approach and demonstrates no understanding of how meat in this country is produced, which, thanks to UK farming practices, is among the most sustainable in the world.”
Agriculture in the UK is currently responsible for around 9 percent of the country’s annual carbon emissions, mostly from methane, but in 2019 the farming union NFU announced its intention to make farming in the UK carbon neutral by 2040.
Reaction to the Enfield news on social media was mixed, with some applauding the council’s decision to fight the climate crisis at a local level, and others – who may not be familiar with the concept of a packed lunch – accusing the council of policing what they are able to eat.
The move follows similar decisions taken at Cambridge University and Goldsmiths, which have both removed red meat from campus menus.
Other steps that Enfield Council plans to take include retrofitting homes with low-carbon energy alternatives, encouraging a “thriving carbon neutral economy” by creating “the conditions for low carbon business” and encouraging schools “in their work to cut carbon and raise the importance of adaptation and mitigation, including by holding a school climate summit at the earliest opportunity”.