In a recent article, we wrote about the drive-by some schools to introduce Vegan Fridays and Meat Free Mondays to cater for the growing demand for plant-based meals from children. It is now clear that many food-based businesses and even local authorities are making the switch to serving 100% vegan food. Interestingly, there are different drivers behind removing meat and dairy from menus. Some are doing so because they have committed to tackling climate change, while others have enjoyed huge popularity after they introduced a plant-based menu for Veganuary.
Oxfordshire Council commits to plant-based menus
Risking the inevitable ire of local farmers and celebrities such as Jeremy Clarkson, Oxfordshire County Council recently announced it was planning to prepare and serve only vegan food at its meetings and events. It also said it plans to offer more plant-based meals in its schools. In its announcement, the council confirmed its plans to “ensure that food provided at all council catered events and meetings is entirely plant-based, preferably using ingredients sourced from local food surplus organisations”. They also acknowledged that the production of meat and dairy is a “significant contributor” to CO2 emissions and deforestation, stating, “Reducing consumption of these foods is a key part of tackling climate change”.
Oxfordshire County Council is the only local authority to make this decision. According to Peta UK, councils around the UK are going vegan. Lewisham Council was an early adopter of plant-based food and made the decision to offer vegan-only food at its events in 2020. Other councils to go vegan only for meetings and events include Faversham Town Council and Hythe Town Council.
Rural pubs going vegan-only
In another move that few would have predicted only a few years ago, some rural gastropubs are going vegan only. One example is a Welsh pub, the Queen Inn in Cwmbran, which went totally vegan for Veganuary. Following an “astonishing response”, the Edwards family, who own the establishment, made the bold decision to continue with their 100% vegan approach once Veganuary ended. Ryan Edwards told Walesonline, “We decided it was worth taking the risk for January because it’s always likely to be a quiet month anyway, but it’s been a genuinely insane response…We’ve been fully booked for an entire month. The only dates we end up having available are cancellations”.
There are now vegan-only pubs across the country, including The Caledonia in Liverpool and The Spread Eagle in London, while many more are adding excellent vegan options. Whereas plant-based options used to be added to the standard menu more as a token gesture, pubs have seen at first hand the considerable demand for vegan food and have now placed a wide range of suitable options at the core of their menu.
Given that, according to estimates, a third of British people plan to go vegan this year, more and more private businesses and public sector organisations are likely to respond and place plant-based food on their menus. As such, it isn’t a question of ‘if’, it is a question of ‘when’.