Berkeley to serve vegan meals at jails, public buildings

Berkeley to serve vegan meals at jails, public buildings
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A new resolution passed in Berkeley, Calif., this week mandates that local jails and public buildings begin offering vegan meal options, and also commits the city to significantly reducing spending on animal-based products over the next few years. 

The Berkeley City Council voted Tuesday to officially require that city buildings and events offer an array of plant-based foods, like vegetables, fruits and whole grains. 

Under the resolution, council members also said that they would work to cut half of the city's spending on animal-based products like meats and dairy by 2024. 

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The measure, authored by Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín and Council member Sophie Hahn, also says that the city council will review plans on whether the city can achieve 100 percent plant-based food sources by 2022, a goal Berkeley-based animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere, or DxE, had initially wanted the city to commit to in the resolution. 

DxE lead organizer Almira Tanner told The Daily Californian this week that the resolution was a result of more than a year of “back-and-forth” negotiations between activists and council members. 

“This is something we all agree on,” Tanner told the local news outlet. “Try not to hurt others, and try to help them instead.” 

“Today’s resolution is a powerful statement affirming the inner voice of decent people of conscience,” the organizer said. 

According to The Associated Press, the city manager is expected to present a report by next summer on the likelihood that the progressive city could logistically achieve offering only plant-based options. 

Berkeley has been a leader in advocating for resolutions aimed at combating the effects of climate change and promoting sustainable food consumption practices. 

Tuesday’s resolution argues that the efforts to cut back on meat and dairy consumption can help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that result from production of animal-based products. 

In 2018, the city council passed a resolution making Berkeley the first city in the country to start “Green Mondays,” in which only vegan foods would be served in city events and meetings taking place on the first day of the week.