Berkeley becomes first US city to commit to meat-free meals | Totally Vegan Buzz
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“Hopeful[ly] this historic step can spur a wave of legislation to protect all life on Earth while we still have time.”

The City Council of Berkeley has passed a resolution to cut the city’s spending on animal-based products like meats and dairy by 50% by 2024.

Under the new resolution, city-supplied places such as summer camps, senior centres, public buildings, and the Berkeley City Jail will begin offering vegan meal options.

The move will make Berkeley the nation’s first city to implement ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve public health as well as continue the city’s climate efforts and “long tradition [of] promoting the humane treatment of animals.”

It follows a 2018 resolution that mandated all city-owned and managed facilities or programs to adopt the Green Monday campaign – an initiative to serve only vegan foods for one day of the week.

The new measure, authored by Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín and Council member Sophie Hahn, also says that the city council will review plans on whether the city can replace all animal-based products with plant-based foods in the long term.

“Berkeley has been a leader in addressing climate change, passing and implementing numerous measures that reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improve the environmental quality of our community, region, and world. One critically important sector that accounts for about 25% of global GHG emissions and significant emissions here in Berkeley is our food,” the resolution reads.

It adds: “Streamlining the City of Berkeley’s transition to plant-forward and plant-based meals advances the City’s Strategic Plan Priority of being a global leader in addressing climate change, advancing environmental justice, and protecting the environment and supports the Climate Action Plan goal that a majority of food consumed in Berkeley be produced locally.”

Activist pressure

The resolution is the outcome of more than a year of “back-and-forth” discussions between a coalition of animal-rights groups, including Berkeley-based animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), Extinction Rebellion Oakland, The Animal Save Movement, East Bay Animal PAC, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and The Suitcase Clinic and council members. 

“This is something we all agree on,” DxE lead organizer Almira Tanner told The Daily Californian.

“Try not to hurt others, and try to help them instead.

“Today’s resolution is a powerful statement affirming the inner voice of decent people of conscience.”

The coalition also hopes Berkeley will set a precedent for other cities including San Francisco and Chicago to follow suit.

“The public is rising up and taking action against the destructiveness of animal agriculture,” Tanner added.

“We’re hopeful this historic step can spur a wave of legislation to protect all life on Earth while we still have time.”

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