North Yorkshire County Council rejects call to only serve vegan food

File pic.

North Yorkshire County Council has rejected calls to limit the millions of meals it offers every year to vegan ones to help cut carbon emissions and costs while improving people’s health.

The authority’s deputy leader and former butcher Councillor Gareth Dadd said while the authority recognised the importance of offering plant-based foods at venues such as schools or care homes, choice remained of paramount importance.

Coun Dadd was speaking after two national organisations pressed the authority to work to increase the quality, quantity and uptake of plant-based foods on menus it had responsibility for in the wake of declaring a climate emergency in the summer.

Jimmy Pearson, of ProVeg UK, which works to increase the health and sustainability of school food, said North Yorkshire’s biggest employer needed to recognise that farming animals is responsible for 20 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the global transport sector.

He added: “It is also a leading cause of deforestation, water use, biodiversity loss and species extinction.

“There has long been scientific consensus that we need to eat less meat and dairy for the future of the planet. This is because plant-based food is generally far more sustainable than aninmal-based food.”

Mr Pearson urged the council to follow “the direction in which society is going in” by embracing plant-based foods and highlighted potential cost-saving benefits, saying plant-based foods are generally cheaper than their meat-based equivalents.

The calls come as the council looks to save money for essential services wherever it can as it is facing a black hole of up to £70m from April.

Pam Patterson, of the Feed Our Futures campaign, said while North Yorkshire prided itself on being one of the most forward-thinking councils in the UK by putting climate change considerations at the heart of its governance, it was trailing behind local authorities in places such as Oxford, Cambridge and Bristol in continuing to serve animal-based food at its events.

Coun Dadd said although the vegetarian and plant-based foods the council served were becoming increasingly popular, meat-based products often remained the most popular choice in the county.

He also highlighted the reliance of many North Yorkshire communities on the meat and dairy farming industry, adding the council’s core school menu offer included a meat-free day and a daily vegetarian choice and that there were plant-based menus available.

Coun Dadd said earlier this year North Yorkshire Education Services Catering had won a national accolade after chefs developed an innovative plant-based menu.

He said the council’s caterers used Red Tractor meat and sustainably-caught fish to ensure both high quality and good animal welfare standards and much of the food was sourced locally to limit carbon emissions.

Coun Dadd added: “Whilst there is some debate as to how much meat and dairy production actually contributes towards climate change… we have an overarching duty to ensure children, elderly and the wider customer base will actually eat the food offered. It is most definitely not our role to impose wholesale change without willing consent.”


  1. Can I ask about the photo you have chosen to use in your article? Seems an inflammatory choice that looks like the cows are behind bars when in fact they are most likely putting their heads through yokes by choice..doesn’t really sell that does it?

      • Weak response about the photo, we live in a farming community where views of beautiful scenery including cows and sheep are available everywhere.

        I’ve done a bit of research for you to provide some balance to your report on greenhouse gas and its origin.
        This is a report from the EPA in the US one of the worlds largest countries.
        Here’s how you know
        Greenhouse Gas Emissions
        CONTACT US
        Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

        On this page:

        OverviewElectric PowerTransportationIndustryCommercial/ResidentialAgricultureLand Use/Forestry

        Total Greenhouse Gas Emissions in 2020
        Total Emissions in 2020 = 5,981 Million Metric Tons of CO2 equivalent. Percentages may not add up to 100% due to independent rounding.

        * Land Use, Land-Use Change, and Forestry in the United States is a net sink and removes approximately 13% of these greenhouse gas emissions. This net sink is not shown in the above diagram. All emission estimates from the Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990–2020.

        Larger image to save or print
        Greenhouse gases trap heat and make the planet warmer. Human activities are responsible for almost all of the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere over the last 150 years.1 The largest source of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities in the United States is from burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat, and transportation.
        EPA tracks total U.S. emissions by publishing the Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks. This annual report estimates the total national greenhouse gas emissions and removals associated with human activities across the United States.

        The primary sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States are:

        Transportation (27% of 2020 greenhouse gas emissions) – The transportation sector generates the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation primarily come from burning fossil fuel for our cars, trucks, ships, trains, and planes. Over 90% of the fuel used for transportation is petroleum based, which includes primarily gasoline and diesel.2
        Electricity production (25% of 2020 greenhouse gas emissions) – Electric power generates the second largest share of greenhouse gas emissions. Approximately 60% of our electricity comes from burning fossil fuels, mostly coal and natural gas.3
        Industry (24% of 2020 greenhouse gas emissions) – Greenhouse gas emissions from industry primarily come from burning fossil fuels for energy, as well as greenhouse gas emissions from certain chemical reactions necessary to produce goods from raw materials.
        Commercial and Residential (13% of 2020 greenhouse gas emissions) – Greenhouse gas emissions from businesses and homes arise primarily from fossil fuels burned for heat, the use of certain products that contain greenhouse gases, and the handling of waste.
        Agriculture (11% of 2020 greenhouse gas emissions) – Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture come from livestock such as cows, agricultural soils, and rice production.
        Land Use and Forestry (13% of 2020 greenhouse gas emissions) – Land areas can act as a sink (absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere) or a source of greenhouse gas emissions. In the United States, since 1990, managed forests and other lands are a net sink, i.e., they have absorbed more CO2 from the atmosphere than they emit.
        Emissions and Trends

        Since 1990, gross U.S. greenhouse gas emissions have decreased by 7%. From year to year, emissions can rise and fall due to changes in the economy, the price of fuel, and other factors. In 2020, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions decreased 11% compared to 2019 levels. The sharp decline in emissions was primarily from CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion and was largely due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic-related reductions in travel and economic activity, including a 13% decrease in transportation emissions driven by less travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Electric power sector emissions decreased 10% due to a slight decrease in electricity demand from the COVID-19 pandemic and a continued shift from co

  2. Please can you ask ProVeg UK your contributor to provide 100% proven and accurate data to back up the statements in this article in connection with farming. Eating meat and other animal products is legal and as the council spokesman said, is still the most popular choice for the majority of people. If people want to eat the plant based food options offered they can but it should never be the only option available.

  3. About time sense prevailed, I was bought up with everything in moderation, so I enjoy a mixed diet of meat and veg
    I would be more concerned, as we are experiencing already, the loss of farm land to industry and house, pushing us into more reliance on imported produce, hasn’t history shown us, that the more we rely on imported produce the more vulnerable we are as a nation, Dig For Victory ring any bells, support our farmers and growers, reduce the food miles, will have a far more positive effect

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