The city of Berkeley announced it will start serving vegan food at public events, in jails, senior centres and public buildings after the city council approved a resolution that calls for the progressive city to cut by half its spending on meat and dairy by 2024.
These are first-of-its-kind measures in the UK. They were approved this week and co-authored by Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín. The new law requires the city to offer plant-based foods, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds at all public buildings except for schools, which are operated by an independent school district.
The new legislation is a result of advocacy efforts by the Berkeley-based animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE). The organisation is now working for similar policies to be enacted in other major cities, including Chicago and San Francisco.
The group said it had advocated for the city to go entirely vegan and serve 100% plant-based food but city officials were not ready to go that far yet. By next summer, the city plans a call to present a report on the feasibility of offering only vegan food.
Berkeley is one of the most environmentally progressive cities in the US. It was the first city to implement a rubbish recycling program in the 70's and in 2019 it banned natural gas lines from new buildings.
Reducing meat and dairy consumption is part of the city’s efforts to fight climate crisis.