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The battle against vegan council compulsion continues

For over a year now, the Countryside Alliance has been at the forefront of a major fight-back against councils banning meat and dairy, encouraging them to, instead, champion local sourcing and freedom of choice.

Through cross-party dialogue between councillors and Alliance representatives, and thanks to our members emailing and writing letters, we have seen 10 councils reject compulsory veganism and opt for our alternative motion, which celebrates not only sustainable meat and dairy produce being on the menu, but plant-based options too. Crucially, the produce supplied by councils will come from local farmers and growers, benefiting both livestock and arable farmers.

But the motion goes one step further. Councils also pledge to use their vast communications platforms to promote the importance of the public shopping locally and supporting UK farmers too.

We have already seen Suffolk, Cornwall, Portsmouth, Fenland, Peterborough, the Highlands, Dorset, Wiltshire, Staffordshire Moorlands and Rutland sign up, and we are working hard to reach other councils.

This week served as an important reminder as to why our campaign matters and why we cannot get complacent.

On Monday, Calderdale Council leaders voted to recommend serving only vegan food at its events.

The ruling Labour-run cabinet in West Yorkshire said the move demonstrated they were “leading by example”, as the 51-member authority strives towards “stopping climate change in its tracks”. The policy change means items including ham, bacon, beef, cheese and dairy milk will not be served by the council at any of the events it runs on any given year.

Councillors from all parties will now get to have their say at a full meeting before the policy is voted on and implemented.

Following earlier backlash and outcry online, the motion’s proposer, Councillor Scott Patient, insisted council enforcement officers would not swoop in on residents to police whether they were eating “wafer thin ham”, nor would they block people from smuggling in their own milk to council buildings.

Adding their voice in support of the scheme was Council Leader Jane Scullion, who argued that despite not being a vegetarian, the motion showed the council was “doing its little bit” to reduce carbon emissions. She added: “ I don’t think the world is going to end if the council takes a small amount of responsibility”.

Time will tell if common sense prevails in Calderdale, and the Alliance will be encouraging local members there to contact their elected representatives. We won’t allow this draconian policy to slip through without a public debate and we have already put the issue under the spotlight of the local media.

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