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Cambridge City Council

Council to phase in plant-based food options at civic events

25 January 2023

FOLLOWING a decision at the Environment and Community Scrutiny Committee meeting, held Thursday 19 January, Cambridge City Council will now offer more plant-based food at civic events, whilst reducing the amount of food options that contain meat.

This report follows a motion that was approved at the Annual Council Meeting last May, which tasked council officers with exploring how to introduce more plant-based catering. Plant-based foods can be more sustainable than other foods such as those that include dairy and meat.

As a result of this decision, 75% of the food available at the Annual Full Council Meeting in 2023 will be plant-based. This could rise to 100% by 2024, if it is positively received by attendees.

At the Mayor’s Reception and the Remembrance Day Service that will take place this year, it is proposed that 25% of the food be plant-based. The remaining options would be a mixture of vegetarian, meat and dairy options. If positively received by attendees, this would increase in yearly increments, to 100% plant-based options by 2026.

The council will also no longer procure and serve beef and lamb at civic events as some research suggests it can have a higher impact on greenhouse gas emissions. The livestock sector accounts for 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The council has been seeking ways to help tackle the climate emergency and reduce its emissions for a number of years. Promoting food which has a lower climate impact is one of the ways the council is tackling climate change, contributing towards its vision for Cambridge to be net zero by 2030. The council also supports the Cambridge Sustainable Food Partnership’s #GoldFoodCambridge campaign and CoFarm – the first community farm in the city.

Cllr Alex Collis, Executive Councillor for Open Spaces, Food Justice, and Community Development said: “At last year’s Annual Council Meeting, a motion was passed, and council officers have put together recommendations which outline how the council could introduce a more sustainable food offer to civic events.

“Offering more plant-based food options means we will be able to cut down on some of the carbon emission we contribute towards. Plant-based foods are generally more sustainable, typically have a lower carbon footprint than non-plant-based foods, not to mention the health benefits that come with eating more plant-based foods. We hope that the council taking this step and showing leadership will encourage other organisations to do the same. It may also inspire individuals to choose more sustainable food, whether that’s purely plant-based or more responsibly sourced meat and dairy, it will all help.

“I hope to see more people take up this offer at events, and perhaps even take the chance to try something they have never had before – you might discover that you really like something you haven’t tried before.

“Tackling climate change is one of our key priorities and we are working towards a net zero vision for the city by 2030. The council is undertaking work such as building more energy efficient homes, supporting residents with retrofitting their homes, and supporting the uptake of electric vehicles, to contribute to this vision for the city. All of these are steps that align with our Climate Change Strategy.”