Today’s Solutions: May 19, 2024

Last week, the City Council of Berkeley passed a resolution to cut the number of animal product purchases in the city in half by the year 2024. However, this is just the beginning as the long-term goal of this resolution is the eventual phasing out of all purchases of animal products and replacing them with plant-based alternatives. The practicality and the timeline of this ambitious goal will be reported by the City Manager to Council by the end of June, next year. To push this resolution forward, city-supplied places like summer camps, senior homes, and the Berkeley City Jail will be serving more plant-based meals.

Berkeley has a history of pioneering environmental and animal rights initiatives, being the first city to adopt “Vegan Monday” back in 2018, as well as being the second city to ban fur sales within city limits in 2017. City Council members Kate Harrison, Cheryl Davila, and Sophie Hahn also introduced the “Green Monday” resolution to further address the city’s plan to combat climate change and to become carbon neutral by 2030. Plus, Berkeley is an early actor in implementing recycling programs and divesting from fossil fuels.

True to the city’s spirit of advocacy for the environment, the vegan resolution, authored by Mayor Jesse Arreguín and Councilmember Hahn, strives to improve the city’s already impressive efforts, stating, “one critically important sector that accounts for about 25 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and significant emissions here in Berkeley is our food. It is clear that the world cannot meet global greenhouse gas reduction targets without significantly curbing consumption of animal products.” It goes on to say that “high-meat-eating nations like the United States, which consumes 2.6 times more meat than the global per capita average, must help shoulder this responsibility.”

According to the mayor, “this is a very important step for the city to take as part of our broader climate efforts, as well as building on our long tradition promoting the humane treatment of animals here in the city of Berkeley.”

The resolution was the direct result of campaigning by a coalition of animal-rights groups which included Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), Extinction Rebellion Oakland, The Animal Save Movement, East Bay Animal PAC, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and The Suitcase Clinic. Now, the same activists are expanding their efforts to San Francisco, Chicago, and other cities, with the goal of establishing a strategy to combat climate change by divesting from animal agriculture.

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