Portsmouth set to become fourth council to defy vegan trend

Portsmouth residents will be urged to ‘shop locally’ and to take advantage of ‘home-grown, affordable, nutritious food’
Portsmouth residents will be urged to ‘shop locally’ and to take advantage of ‘home-grown, affordable, nutritious food’

Portsmouth is set to become the fourth council in recent weeks to defy the vegan trend in a show of support for farmers of all sectors.

A campaign to push local councils into publicly expressing support for farmers while rejecting compulsory plant-based menus has now reached Portsmouth.

The City Council is set to vote on a motion on 14 November, which if passed, will see it 'always' provides meat and dairy food, alongside plant-based options, from ‘local suppliers’ at its catered events.

It comes after a string of other councils voted to ban meat and dairy items on council catered menus.

The council is poised to become the fourth in a matter of weeks to defy the vegan trend, after Suffolk County Council voted to keep meat and dairy following a vote last month.

Elsewhere in the UK, Cornwall and North Northamptonshire councils have passed the same motion.

In addition, the motion would also commit the authority to encouraging Portsmouth residents to shop locally, where possible, to reduce food miles.

The Countryside Alliance, which has spearheaded a national campaign to get councils to adopt ‘farming friendly’ policies, has welcomed the vote.

It has urged all of Portsmouth’s 42 councillors, regardless of political allegiance, to pass the motion “for the good of the county’s hardworking farming community and the wider countryside”.

Several motions passed at other councils across the country encourage 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.

Mo Metcalf-Fisher, director of external affairs at Countryside Alliance, said that across the country, more councils were backing the organisation's campaign.

"Portsmouth now has a historic opportunity to be the first UK city to sign up to this important motion," he said.

“Red meat produced in the UK is among the most sustainable in the world, and it makes every bit of sense for local authorities to encourage the public to play their part in fighting climate change by sourcing sustainable produce from local farmers."