West Hollywood Mandates Plant-Based Foods Only at City-Sponsored Events

West Hollywood Mandates Plant-Based Foods Only at City-Sponsored Events

West Hollywood, Calif., on Jan. 28, 2010. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Jill McLaughlin
Jill McLaughlin

6/27/2024

Updated: 6/30/2024

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The city of West Hollywood voted June 24 to go vegetarian at all future city-sponsored events to meet its climate goals.
Anyone who prefers to eat meat at city-sponsored events, must make a special request beforehand and those attending will also be “educated” about the benefits of eating plant-based foods.
Vice Mayor Chelsea Byers introduced the plan to switch to plant-based foods in April.
According to the city’s resolution, which took effect immediately, plant-based meals have, on average, a 63 percent lower carbon footprint than those that are animal-based. Eating more plant-based foods is among the most effective ways people can reduce their carbon footprint, according to the city.
“Serving plant-based foods by default has proven to be a tremendously effective yet simple strategy to support people in consuming healthier and more sustainable foods, thereby reducing catering water, land, and carbon footprints without taking away anyone’s choice to opt into eating animal products, and while being inclusive of a larger range of dietary needs and preferences,” the city said in its resolution.
Although city councilors didn’t publicly discuss the resolution on June 24 after placing it on the consent agenda, Ms. Byers explained her idea during an April meeting.
“What this policy is seeking to do is put city resources or taxpayer dollars into making plant-based the default option, instead of one of … several options,” Ms. Byers said.
Nudging the public to eat vegetarian foods would align them with the city’s climate goals, she said.
“At every single event, we can say that we’re doing something to address the climate issues we have by making sure that the majority of our [food] options are plant-based,” Ms. Byers said.
The change would be “a helpful nudge reminding people to eat in alignment with the city’s goals,” she said.
Mayor John Erickson agreed with the idea in April, along with the city’s three other councilors.
Councilwoman Lauren Meister, however, said she had concerns about making plant-based foods the city’s default dish, though she agreed with the overall plan.
“I think having it as part of what we usually serve and keeping an idea on what proportion of people are having what [dish] … is great,” she said. “But I think to just go cold turkey, excuse the pun, and not include what we usually include and expect people to call in and say, ‘Hey, I want my turkey sandwich,’ I think would not really be fair.”
West Hollywood resident Corinne van den Heuvel said she was “thrilled” to hear about the resolution. She wrote a letter June 21 to urge councilors to support the item.
“It’s important to me that City purchasing aligns with the City’s sustainability and climate goals,” she said.
The Center for Biological Diversity, a national conservation organization, was in favor of the switch.
“West Hollywood has an opportunity to lead in sustainability initiatives. A strong step forward in food commitments can help address the overconsumption of high-emissions foods and provide a model for other municipalities,” the group’s senior food campaigner Jennifer Molidor wrote June 24 in a letter of support to the city.
In response to the city’s decision, the California Beef Council pointed out that U.S. agriculture, including beef production, accounts for just 11 percent of the nation’s total emissions, while transportation accounts for about 29 percent, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“A resolution by any city or other jurisdiction that does not address broader issues like transportation and energy production in their climate goals, and relies solely on dietary changes, is missing an opportunity to think more effectively about real climate solutions,” Annette Kassis, director of consumer and brank marketing for the council, told The Epoch Times in an email.
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Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.

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