It may soon become mandatory to serve vegan options at all institutions under municipalities in the city of Aarhus, Denmark. This includes elder care centers, kindergarten, and pre-school daycares.
Politikan reports that the measure was proposed by three left-wing parties, the Social Liberals, Alternative, and the Red Green Alliance, which make up 16 of the 31 council members.
City council member for the Alternative party, Gro Jensen, explained that the proposal is part of the “Climate Policy Food Strategy” to help the city achieve its carbon neutrality target by 2030.
“Meat plays a big part in the climate change, so we obviously need to make a statement as a municipality by offering our citizens plant-based food,” she said.
Under the proposal, institutions would still be permitted to serve food with meat and dairy, but a vegan option would be mandatory.
“It is primarily about giving citizens the opportunity to make choices that will enable the climate target we have in the municipality,” said Eva Borchhorst Mejnertz of the Radical Left party. “It is clear that we cannot just do what we have always done in order to change our climate.”
Climate Change and a Plant-Based Diet
In recent years, a growing body of scientific evidence points to industrial animal agriculture as one of the primary factors driving human-caused climate change. Last June, a study published in the journal Science revealed that a plant-based diet is the most effective way to mitigate global warming. Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland, has been a vocal proponent of going vegan or adopting a more plant-forward way of eating in order to reduce carbon emissions.
The proposal has had some pushback from other politicians. Jette Skive of the Danish People’s Party believes that mandatory plant-based options should be available in nursing homes only by request. She asserts that it’s because residents pay for meals themselves.
Is Vegan Food Healthy for Children?
Skive is also opposed to serving plant-based meals to pre-schoolers and kindergarteners on the grounds that it may not be healthy. “As long as science cannot agree on this, I think we should stop and wait before we take this kind of action,” she said.
Due to long-held myths that animal products are essential to good health, many speculate whether or not it’s safe to cut them out of their kid’s diet. Writing for the BBC, dietitian Emer Delaney explained that infants and children can thrive on a carefully planned plant-based diet.
“[V]egan diets can be safe for children once parents are well informed about the key nutrients required for growth and development. However, parents must be extra cautious to ensure they’re following a balanced diet,” she wrote.
Aarhus council members are set to vote on the proposal this week.
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