Edinburgh City Council urged to ditch 'plant based treaty' one year on

Last January, Edinburgh became the first Scottish city and first capital in Europe to sign the 'plant-based treaty'
Last January, Edinburgh became the first Scottish city and first capital in Europe to sign the 'plant-based treaty'

Rural campaigners have urged Edinburgh City Council to withdraw from the controversial ‘plant based treaty’ a year on from signing up to it.

It comes as councillors at the city authority voted against meat free menus earlier this week as part of a motion to celebrate ‘veganuary’.

However, last year, Edinburgh became the first European capital to sign up to the plant based treaty, which could see it encouraging half a million people to drop meat and dairy.

At the time, rural groups and organisations opposed the decision, describing it as an ‘attack’ on local livestock farmers.

The treaty's 38 demands include transitioning to plant-based meal plans in schools, hospitals and nursing homes, as well as introducing a 'meat tax'.

It also includes banning the development of any new farms that have livestock, and agreeing not to halt expansion of any existing farms.

According to an assessment report carried out by council officials last year, by signing the treaty, it would "create an expectation that the council will refuse permission for any new animal farm or slaughterhouse within the city".

Actions agreed already by the city council include ensuring council canteens “always include plant-based options including plant-based milk”.

On Tuesday, an addendum tabled by the Green Party for catering at February’s full Edinburgh Council meeting to be all plant-based was backed by the SNP.

However, it was voted down by Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem members. Conservative Cllr Phil Doggart said he was worried this would mean members would not be able to enjoy the pies usually provided “which I know most of us love”.

He said: “It would be a great hardship for many of us. Highlight of the month, because I certainly don’t get a pie at home.”

Following the vote, Lib Dem group leader Kevin Lang said on X, formally known as Twitter, that councillors were “through the looking glass”.

He wrote: “We have a housing emergency, a cost-of-living crisis, and a multi-million pound black hole facing the council…and we literally spent time today at committee debating what the council should be served for lunch next month.”

The Countryside Alliance, which is leading a campaign against councils banning meat in dairy, hailed the decision to reject plant-based lunches for councillors as ‘common sense’.

The rural group has ignited calls for the authority to go further and "right the wrongs of last year" by withdrawing from the treaty.

Mo Metcalf- Fisher, director of external affairs for the alliance said: “ Councillors are obviously right to reject any attempt to deprive citizens of choice when it comes to food provided by the authority.

"There is no justification for undermining the efforts of livestock farming in Scotland or anywhere in the UK- which is among the most sustainable in the world- by banning meat and dairy from menus.”

He added: “We urge Edinburgh City councillors to now right the wrongs of last year and unsubscribe from the plant-based treaty completely and pledge it support for sourcing local, seasonal produce- including meat and dairy- instead.

"Doing so will signal Edinburgh City Council’s support for farmers and freedom of choice”.

Dorset, Fenland, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Cornwall, and North Northamptonshire councils have already voted in favour of the alliance’s alternative motion to the plant based treaty.

Instead, these councils have pledged to source local meat, airy and plant-based produce at council-run events.