In an unprecedented move, the German environment minister has banned meat at official functions in the country, offering only vegetarian catering options to “set a good example for climate protection.”
Germany is already one of the greenest countries in the world, and this step is part of the Environment Ministry’s plan to take things further. By becoming the first government agency to take meat off the menu at official functions, they are hoping to highlight environmentally sustainable consumption and the consequences of consuming meat.
“We’re not tell anyone what they should eat,” the ministry said in a statement. “But we want to set a good example for climate protection, because vegetarian food is more climate-friendly than meat and fish.”
The meat and dairy industry is one of the largest contributors to global carbon emissions, and there is plenty of evidence that shows eating less meat can drastically cut carbon footprints and save millions of lives.
This is just a small example of how it can be incorporated into daily life, and though it has been lauded by many, it has also caused quite the upset in the bratwurst-loving country. Some accused Barbara Hendricks, the environment minister, of “nanny-statism”.
Christian Schmidt, the minister for food and agriculture, suggested that Hendricks was trying to force vegetarianism on people and that the meat ban was political ammunition.
"I'm not having this Veggie Day through the back door," Schmidt said, according to The Telegraph. “I believe in diversity and freedom of choice, not nanny-statism and ideology. Instead of paternalism and ideology. Meat and fish are also part of a balanced diet.”
He has previously called for a ban on meat alternatives being labeled with the same words as their meat counterparts, accusing them of being “misleading and unsettling.”
Others have accused the ministry of hypocrisy, suggesting it won’t make any difference at all as the ban will only apply to official functions, meaning ministry officials can still consume meat and fish in canteens on ministry premises.
“They won’t save the climate by branding people who eat meat, and they know this,” Gitta Conneman, a senior MP in the CDU told the German Bild newspaper. “The ban only applies to a handful of guests, not to 1,200 employees. This is pure ideology, a ‘people’s education’ for the diet.”
However, the ministry is standing by its measure, believed to have come into force at the end of January, saying it intends to lead by example.
“We decided to take the symbolic step to ban meat and fish at external events because we want to practice what we preach,” Environment Ministry Spokesperson Michael Schroeren told the Guardian. “For us it was a matter of credibility.”
[H/T: The Telegraph]