by Countryside Alliance

The Countryside Alliance has criticised an illogical decision by a local authority to cancel meat from the menu of its events, in time for Christmas 2020.

Enfield Borough Council has released a lengthy dossier outlining a number of steps they are taking as part of the council’s ‘climate action plan’. Among the various measures included in the 40 page dossier, are plans to ban meat. Buried deep on page 36, it simply states:  ‘All events held by the Council where catering is provided to offer only vegan or vegetarian options’ which they say is to be enforced by December 2020.

The controversial step is designed to ‘influence the behaviour of Enfield’s key partners, suppliers and wider economy’.

If implemented  the ban would deny those relying on council catering at events, any meat options, despite it being a diet enjoyed by the vast majority of the country.

Enfield Catering services also currently provide meals for  schools as well as thousands of meals to older residents in the North London Borough.

The Labour controlled authority uploaded the extensive ‘Enfield climate action plan 2020’ online in response to their own declared ‘climate emergency’. It is unclear whether the sweeping measures have had sufficient public consultation. Political blog Guido Fawkes reports that the council gave ‘minor lip service’ to taking public views on the plan, holding a consultation for less than a month in the middle of the Coronavirus lockdown. The council cabinet agreed to the plan on the 15th July.

The Alliance argues that a ban would completely ignore the ambitious efforts being put in by UK farmers to achieve net zero emissions by 2040. Such a move demonstrates the council make no differentiation between the industrial farming systems in countries like the US and Brazil and the mainly grass-fed systems in Britain. The council are failing their residents by not explaining the benefits of sourcing local grass reared meat with high welfare standards and a low carbon footprint.

It is understood to be the first time a local authority has agreed to ban meat from its events. The ban follows similar moves taken at both Goldsmiths and Cambridge University, which saw red meat removed from campus menus. Cambridge University was accused of hypocrisy when information obtained by an FOI request, submitted by the Countryside Alliance,  found staff taking 17,545 flights since the introduction of the beef ban; dwarfing any alleged savings in Co2 emissions. Students at the University of Edinburgh and University of East Anglia overturned similar bans in votes of the wider student body.

Commenting on the proposal, Mo Metcalf-Fisher of the Countryside Alliance said: “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. That this ban has gone through with what appears to be very limited public consultation, is damning. Enfield Borough Council would do well to actually liaise with the farming community, properly consult their local residents and drop this proposed ban immediately.”

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