Berkeley City Council has announced plans to decrease the animal-based food products it serves by 50 percent, and replace them with plant-based options by 2024.
It’s part of the Californian’s city’s long-term goal of completely phasing out animal products, The Daily Californian reported.
Berkeley’s shift to plant-based
The move makes Berkeley the first city in the US to pivot to a completely plant-based food purchasing program. The Californian city supplies meals to summer camps, senior centers, public events, and the jail, among others.
A 16-month campaign by animal rights organization Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) motivated the decision. DxE staged protests and sent letters to the City Council highlighting the environmental impact of animal agriculture. The group is pushing for similar policies in other cities like Chicago and San Francisco.
According to Berkeley’s July 27 meeting agenda, the council believes the goal will ‘accelerate the City’s transition to plant-based diets’.
The agenda report pointed out meat and dairy’s negative impact on greenhouse gas emissions, water scarcity, and ‘catastrophic natural disasters’. It also noted issues surrounding food waste and diseases like diabetes and cancer.
Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín and Councilmember Sophie Hahn authored the resolution.
“Streamlining the City of Berkeley’s transition to plant-forward and plant-based meals advances the City’s Strategic Plan Priority of being a global leader in addressing climate change, advancing environmental justice, and protecting the environment and supports the Climate Action Plan goal that a majority of food consumed in Berkeley be produced locally,” the resolution says.
In the recent meeting, Arreguín said the initiative will further Berkeley’s ‘long tradition of promoting the humane treatment of animals’.
Berkeley and animal rights
Berkeley made headlines in 2017 when it became the second city in the US (after West Hollywood) to ban the sale of fur.
Councilmember Kriss Worthington proposed the fur ban to ‘foster a consciousness about the way we live in the world and create a more humane environment in [Berkeley]’.
The proposal noted that fur producers kill more than 30 million animals a year for their coats.
Quoting the Free Fur Berkeley’s website, the proposal reads: “These animals are often victims of cruel conditions that include ‘intense stress, distressed and repetitive movement, self-mutilation, and even cannibalism.’
“With the availability of countless varieties of adequate fabrics, there is no need for this brutal industry.”
Councilmember Sophie Hahn introduced exemptions to the ban. She pushed for the sale of cowhide with hair, and sheep or lambskin with fleece to be permitted. She alleged that these items are by-products of the meat industry.
In 2019, Berkeley became the first city in the US to launch a Green Monday campaign. The weekly initiative aims to encourage plant-based eating.