Dorset set to become fifth council to defy vegan movement

Dorset Council is poised to become the fifth in a matter of weeks to defy the vegan trend
Dorset Council is poised to become the fifth in a matter of weeks to defy the vegan trend

Dorset is set to become the fifth council to defy a plant-based movement in an increasingly popular show of support for the nation's farmers.

A campaign to push local councils into publicly expressing support for farmers while rejecting compulsory plant-based-only menus will be debated by councillors.

The unitary authority will vote on a motion at its full council meeting on 14 December, which if passed, will see food provided at its catered events sourced from ‘local suppliers’, specifically including meat and dairy.

The move comes after a string of other councils voted banned meat and dairy items on council catered menus.

Dorset Council is poised to become the fifth in a matter of weeks to defy the vegan trend, after Portsmouth City Council voted to keep meat and dairy following a vote last month. Suffolk, Cornwall and North Northamptonshire have also passed it.

In addition, the motion also seeks to commit local authorities to encourage local residents to shop locally, where possible.

The Countryside Alliance, which has spearheaded the campaign to get councils to adopt ‘farming friendly’ policies while pushing back on bans on meat and dairy, has welcomed Dorset's motion.

It has urged all 82 councillors, regardless of political allegiance, to vote “for the good of the county’s hardworking farming community and the wider countryside”.

Mo Metcalf-Fisher, director of external affairs for the organisation, said: “We thank Cllr Quayle for submitting this motion and hope to see every councillor supporting him.

"Dorset has a significant farming community and this motion will go a long way in reassuring them that the council has their back."

He added: “Red meat produced in the UK is among the most sustainable in the world."

Several motions passed at other councils across the country urge residents to buy ‘plant-based’ produce in a move away from meat and dairy, while also committing to only source vegan options for councillors at events.

In 2021, Oxfordshire County Council sparked outrage among farmers, including Jeremy Clarkson, when it passed a motion to ban meat and dairy at its events.

At the time, the council justified the policy by saying it was ‘in the interest of the health of our planet and the health of our people’.

The controversial policy was backed by Animal Rebellion - now Rising - an offshoot of Extinction Rebellion. The council also sponsored a taxpayer-funded website, urging people to adopt a plant-based diet to help “slow climate change, rein in habitat loss, and regenerate the health of our planet”.

Three councils – Edinburgh City Council, Norwich City Council, and Haywards Heath Town Council in Sussex – have also signed up to the ‘Plant-Based Treaty’.

Enfield Borough Council also removed meat from the menu of its catering service in 2020, while Cambridge City Council will transition to fully plant-based catering for council meetings by 2026.