Enfield Council bans meat in a bid to tackle the climate crisis

There’s no getting away from the fact that meat eating has played a massive role in contributing to climate change.

Meat-free Mondays and increased plant-based offerings on the high street go some way to helping us re-think our relationship between animals and food, but some organisations don’t think they go far enough.

Take Enfield Council, for example.

The north London borough council has just banned meat as part of its pledge to help fight the climate crisis.

In a 40-page document, the council outlined its 2020 climate commitment – including no longer serving meat at any of its events.

The ban is set to take place from December when all catered council functions will have vegan or veggie options only.

Enfield councillor Ian Barnes said: ‘Our planet is facing an existential threat from climate change.

‘The emergency is real and the action to remedy it must be local, national and global. In response to rising awareness and justified protest, Enfield Council has declared a climate emergency.’

Enfield isn’t the first council to take such drastic action. 67% of district, county, unitary and metropolitan councils have declared a climate emergency across the UK. Lewisham Council has voted in favour of offering only vegan food at council events while Leeds City Council has pledged to offer more vegan meals and have two meat-free days a week in 182 primary schools.

Five reasons to have two meat-free days a week

No one is saying that you have to go full-time vegan to help the planet – one or two days a week can make a massive difference.

It’s healthier

The World Cancer Research Fund now recommends we ‘choose mostly plant foods, limit red meat and avoid processed meat’.

Curbing our meat-eating to just three days a week could save 31,000 deaths from heart disease, 9,000 deaths from stroke and save the NHS £1.2 billion a year, Oxford University estimates.

You’re helping the planet

Avoiding meat and dairy is the ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your carbon footprint, according to a 2019 analysis published in the journal Science.

‘A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use,’ said Joseph Poore, at the University of Oxford, UK, who led the research.

‘It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car.’

It protects animals

We’re losing animal species at an alarming rate, due to deforestation, pesticides and general poor human behaviour. If we don’t change our ways, we’re going to see a huge global extinction of lots of animals.

There’s so much cruelty involved in the meat and dairy industries; if you can’t face going meat-free full time, at least having the odd day off will reduce the demand for needlessly hurting and killing animals.

You could save money

Going veggie or vegan does not have to be expensive. The average UK family spends £15.70 a week on meat and fish and just £5.10 on veg. We should all be aiming for at least five portions of fruit and veg a day and there are plenty of plant-based protein sources that are way cheaper than the meaty alternatives.

Commit to a veg-first approach to eating and you might find that you naturally start to reduce the amount of meat you eat, even if you don’t subscribe to a totally plant-based day.

It could help alleviate food poverty elsewhere

It takes up to 12kg of grain to produce just 1kg of beef. If you eat a stack of meat all the time, you’re sucking up a disproportionate amount of the world’s available nutrients.

With over 800 million people suffering from malnutrition in the world right now, we can ill afford to see huge quantities of cereals and grains being fed to animals that only the wealthiest nations get to eat.

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