Yesterday, the local elections for 200 councils across the UK took place.
Our local councils, which are the most common type of local authority, are made up of councillors that work with the public to agree and deliver on local priorities.
Local authorities are responsible for a range of vital services, one of which is the public procurement of food for hospitals, schools, care homes, prisons and government buildings.
Factors such as the climate crisis, biodiversity loss and public health already shape food procurement decisions in public settings, as evidenced by local strategies for reducing sugar, sourcing sustainable fish and minimising food waste.
However, despite its clear environmental and animal welfare impact, the necessity to adjust our meals to incorporate more fruits, vegetables and pulses, and smaller quantities of high welfare meat, is neglected in the public sector.
Let us put meat reduction on the agenda
Through our #MakeFoodKinder campaign, we want to help local authorities improve their food procurement procedures by:
1. Developing and making publicly available a food policy that will demonstrate their commitment to meat reduction and animal welfare.
2. Ensuring no animal product is sourced from cruel farming practices, such as eggs from caged chickens or pork from pigs kept in farrowing crates.
3. Reducing the overall amount of meat and animal products on public sector menus, and replacing these items with healthier, plant-based alternatives.
A staggering 2.4 billion pounds of taxpayer money is spent every year on food that is substandard and does not even meet the NHS’s own nutritional guidelines[i]. Our supermarkets have committed to sourcing only cage free eggs by 2025[ii], so why can’t our Government make the same progressive step for animal welfare?
Citizens in hospitals and care homes are at their most vulnerable, and children in schools are at a critical stage in their growth. We all deserve a healthy and nutritious diet that is not cruel to animals. And we deserve to have that choice.
We must make sure that our local authorities put measures in place that make this choice possible
What are the next steps?
We are currently waiting on the Government to publish the White Paper for the new Food Strategy, and we hope that it will incorporate many of the recommendations from last year’s National Food Strategy[iii].
With this White Paper, there will be a Government consultation that FOUR PAWS UK will respond to, so we can make sure that animal welfare is firmly at the heart of public sector food procurement.
As part of #MakeFoodKinder, we are also reaching out to the 151 councils listed in our local authority map ranking to gather up to date information and ensure their scores reflect the positive steps each council is making in food procurement development, as well as how they are combating the climate crisis.
We hope that we can work with the newly elected councillors to #MakeFoodKinder for animals, for our health, and for the planet.
If you want to make a difference in your home, why not take the pledge to #LiveKinder and reduce your meat and dairy consumption?