Finland’s capital to ditch meat for climate, with exceptions
HELSINKI (AP) — Finland’s capital city says it will no longer serve meat at seminars, staff meetings, receptions and other events to reduce Helsinki’s carbon footprint.
Instead, the city government plans to offer vegetarian dishes and sustainable local fish.
Liisa Kivela, Helsinki’s communications director, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the change takes effect in January and excludes school and workplace cafeterias run by the city of about 650,000 residents.
Kivela said the the policy adopted by the City Council also allows deviations for certain “high-level visits or similar events” organized by Helsinki Mayor Juhana Vartiainen or the city’s senior managers.
The policy also stipulates that coffee, tea and items like bananas offered at events will have to be sourced from fair trade producers. In addition, oat milk would replace regular milk, and snacks and refreshments no longer can be served in single-use containers.
The local government said in a statement that the measure is part of a broader effort “which aims to reduce the climate impact of food and reduce the amount of natural resources used by the city.”
The mayor, who assumed Helsinki’s top post in August, said he was glad the city retains the option of serving meat on some occasions.
“For example, should the king of Sweden arrive for a visit, then domestic game can be offered. Or some group for whom it would be natural to offer meat, then there must be discretion and common sense,” Vartiainen told the Finnish newspaper Iltalehti.
The City Council’s decision announced this week sparked fierce debate on the social media for and against the meat ban among citizens and politicians.
Lawmakers with constituents in rural Finland, where hunting is popular and game dishes are often served, were particularly perturbed. Meat from domestically raised reindeer is often served to visiting foreign dignitaries.
Finland’s Natural Resources Institute said earlier this year that meat consumption in the country of 5.5 million has fallen for two years in a row, as more people decided to make their burgers, sausages and mince from plant-based products rather than animals.
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