A row has broken out in Angela Merkel’s government after the environment minister banned meat at official functions.
Barbara Hendricks claims eating meat is damaging to the environment and has ordered only vegetarian food to be served.
A rival minister has accused her of “nanny-statism” and trying to force vegetarianism on people “by the back door”.
The ban emerged in an email to department heads from a senior civil servant in the environment ministry.
The ministry has a responsibility to combat the “negative effects of meat consumption” and must “set an example”, the email said.
Farming accounts for up to a third of greenhouse gas emissions. On top of all that, there are countless other problems caused by animal agriculture. It can be enough to make your head spin. Luckily, change is easy — and it begins on our plates. This German politician realized that and has decided to create change for the better.
German Food Minister Christian Schmidt fired back by saying:
“I’m not having this Veggie Day through the back door. I believe in diversity and freedom of choice, not nanny-statism and ideology.” This is the same minister who has called for a ban on terms such as “vegetarian schnitzel,” “vegetarian sausage,” and “vegetarian meatballs” on the grounds that “These terms are completely misleading and unsettle consumers. I favor them being banned in the interest of clear consumer labeling.” Just like we are perplexed by the U.S. dairy industry’s uproar over the label “almond milk” or Unilever’s attempted lawsuit over vegan mayonnaise calling itself “mayonnaise,” we have to wonder if Schmidt is truly interested in protecting the fragile consumer mind or if he is simply attempting to fight the growing plant-based food industry.
“We’re not tell anyone what they should eat,”
the environment 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.”
While Hendricks’ ban on meat only extends to official functions and not what government officials will be served daily at the staff canteen, she has made a bold statement for the environment — one that we hope will inspire other government officials to do the same.
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