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A minority proposal which would see plant-based food on the menu of every public canteen has been put forward in the Danish Parliament.
Four of the Parliament’s nine parties have teamed up to push the bill, which was inspired by recent legislation in Portugal.
Under Portuguese law, it is now illegal not to offer plant-based options in all public canteens, including schools, universities, hospitals, prisons, and other public buildings.
The Danish proposals would see 30 million krone spent every year, for four years, continuing a current policy which provides the public sector with a larger percentage of organic food. As an extension, plant-based meals would be offered to all citizens.
Rune-Christoffer Dragsdahl is the Secretary-General of the Vegetarian Society of Denmark.
Today he met with the Environment and Food Committee of the Danish Parliament to argue the case for the proposals.
He told PBN: “The Vegetarian Society teamed up with the Organic Society to put forward points about welfare, freedom to follow your own beliefs, and even discrimination – for example, children from vegan families being forced to drink milk in kindergarten.
“More people came to listen than we expected. They listened carefully and responded positively.
“This is very new in Danish politics – getting Parliament to listen to a constructive dialogue around reducetarianism, vegetarianism, and veganism.”
In 2016, the Portuguese Vegetarian Society circulated a petition getting signatures in support of serving vegan food in public canteens. The petition amassed more than 15,000 signatures.
The Danish petition amassed around 12,000 – a staggering number given its much smaller population (which is around 40 percent smaller).
“The right wing parties were surprised by the number of signatures,” said Dragsdahl.
“They suddenly understood this is mainstream.”
The Society has undertaken some polling which shows just how mainstream interest is in plant-based food.
According to Dragsdahl: “56 percent of Danes say they want to reduce meat, and 44 per cent say they want a plant-based option in public canteens.
“This proposal would go way beyond the vegetarians and vegans – and appeal to flexitarians, as well as meat eaters who want plant-based options.”
Currently the four parties supporting the proposal make up around 25 percent of the Danish Parliament.
“Hopefully we can get the Social Democrats on board, which would take us up to 49 percent,” said Dragsdahl.
“If the proposals make it to the floor to be voted on, it will be interesting to see if anyone votes against it – as that could potentially alienate that party’s veggie voters.
“In Portugal, nobody voted against the proposals, they just abstained.
“An alternative to voting on the proposals now, would be if the parties making the proposals instead negotiated a document of shared understanding, which could lead to legislation at a later date.”
‘Matter of time’
Following today’s meeting, it is a case of waiting to see how politicians respond to the plans.
“We may hear something within weeks or months,” said Dragsdahl. “As soon as we do, we will react to that.”
“But there is public interest behind this and more people wanting these options.
“It’s only a matter of time before this will happen.”