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Norwich City Council votes to increase plant-based catering offerings at meetings and events

young woman with glasses smiling
3 min read
AUTHOR: Fiona Holland
Aerial view of Norwich Cathedral located in Norwich, Norfolk, UK

Councillors at the Full Council meeting of Norwich City Council have unanimously voted to ensure there are more plant-based food and drink options at hosted meeting and events.

The councillors also called for plant-based food and drink to be promoted and showcased at civic gatherings.

The latest motion however falls short of what was originally proposed by Councillor Alex Catt, Green Party councillor for Sewell Ward, who called for all internal catering to be fully plant-based. An amendment to the motion was tabled which limited the final motion to just including plant-based food at meetings and events.

Presenting the original motion, Councillor Catt said: “Over-consumption of meat costs the NHS about 1.2 billion (pounds) annually and is responsible for 45,000 deaths per year. This motion is proposing some very small changes that the council can make to do our bit in ensuring that we have a sustainable food production system which is able to meet our needs in the long term.

“Only half of our food crop calories feed people directly and only a fraction of the 36% of food crop calories that go to feed livestock actually make their way into the meat and milk that we consume. It’s a huge waste of food, it makes our food production much more carbon intensive and inefficient at actually feeding people while driving even greater food insecurity across the world.”

The Plant-Based Councils campaign has lobbied for Norwich to follow in the steps of other councils around the country in promoting healthy plant-based diets as the ideal next step to tackling climate change.

Lucia Alexander, a Norwich resident who supported the motion said in a statement: “While glad to see the amended motion pass with a unanimous vote, I am very disappointed that councillors have chosen not to support the original motion which showed bold leadership on the climate emergency, and have instead gone for something that should be a given. This was a great opportunity for Norwich councillors to set an example.

I attended a full council meeting in November asking for this small change to be considered. It’s not the outcome I’d hoped for, but nonetheless, I am happy to hear the environmental impact of the food we eat being debated at my local council – it is a topic that all councils should be discussing.”

A number of local authorities around the UK have passed similar motions to Norwich – these include Exeter City Council, Cambridge City Council and Oxfordshire County Council. Exeter has also gone one step further and is working to ensure plant-based offerings are more widely available and clearly signposted in all council-run external sites, such as leisure centres, and also plans to to showcase plant-based foods at external events.

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