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Dutch city of Haarlem will be the world’s first to ban meat adverts in public spaces

young woman with glasses smiling
3 min read
AUTHOR: Fiona Holland
Canal with boats and historical houses in Haarlem, Holland

The city of Haarlem in the northwest of the Netherlands will ban adverts promoting meat products from public spaces in a bid to reduce meat consumption and limit greenhouse gas emissions.

The law, agreed last year by the Dutch government and made official this week, will prohibit meat adverts on buses, shelters and screens in Haarlem’s public spaces from 2024 onwards.

According to the UN, livestock produces more than 14% of all man-made emissions such as methane. Research from Greenpeace shows that if the EU is to reach its net zero emissions target by 2050, the population’s consumption of meat there must go down to 24kg per person per year.

Haarlem’s council says it has not yet decided if sustainably produced meat will be prohibited in the ban.

The ban will also prohibit the promotion of holiday flights, and cars that run on fossil fuels. It cannot be implemented until 2024 because of ongoing contracts with companies that sell these products.

The Dutch green political party GroenLinks received much backlash from the right-wing BVNL party for drafting the motion. BVNL claimed the move violated “entrepreneurial freedom” and will be “fatal for pig farmers.”

BVNL councillor for Haarlem, Joey Rademaker, who labelled the motion “censorship”, added that it “stigmatises meat eaters and puts serious pressure on the freedom to choose products which exist legally in the Netherlands. Moreover, banning commercials from politically born motives is almost dictorial.”

The local meat sector has also criticised the law. A spokesman from the Centrale Organisatie voor de Vleessector (Central Organisation for the Meat Sector) said: “The authorities are going too far in telling people what’s best for them.”

Over the past year, the Netherlands has shown it is eager to build a more sustainable food system, with its government investing 60 million into cell-based agriculture and its largest supermarket Albert Heijn announcing it aims to go majority plant-based by 2030.

The country remains the largest exporter of meat in the EU however, and the average person consumes 75.8kg of meat annually. According to Statistics Netherlands, around 95% of the Dutch population eat meat, but more than half of people don’t eat it every day.

Ziggy Klazes, a GroenLinks councillor told the Haarlem105 radio channel: “We are not about what people are baking and roasting in their own kitchen; if people wanted to continue eating meat, fine… We can’t tell people there’s a climate crisis and encourage them to buy products that are part of the cause.

“Of course, there are a lot of people who find the decision outrageous and patronising, but there are also a lot of people who think it’s fine.”


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