Wolverhampton Council 'falling behind' in responsibility to cater to vegan diets
Wolverhampton Council is among the local authorities falling behind in their responsibility to cater to vegan diets, a study has found.
A new report by The Vegan Society revealed the extent to which councils across the UK are recognising their responsibility to cater for vegan diets and taking steps to address the climate emergency through a shift to plant-based catering.
Wolverhampton Council is among 54 local authorities the society categorised as 'red', meaning that the council has not taken steps to be inclusive of vegan people or to address their meat and dairy consumption in order to meet climate targets.
The councils across the Black Country and Staffordshire were ranked as follows:
Wolverhampton - red (meaning the council has not taken steps to be inclusive of veganism and/or to address meat and dairy consumption)
Walsall - amber (meaning the council has taken only limited steps to be inclusive of veganism and to address meat and dairy consumption)
Dudley - amber (meaning the council has taken only limited steps to be inclusive of veganism and to address meat and dairy consumption)
Sandwell - amber (meaning the council has taken only limited steps to be inclusive of veganism and to address meat and dairy consumption)
Staffordshire county - red (meaning the council has not taken steps to be inclusive of veganism and/or to address meat and dairy consumption)
The Vegan Society is urging councils given a 'red' ranking in the report to reassess their vegan catering provisions and follow the precedent set by councils ranked as 'green'. Wolverhampton Council, for example, confirmed the availability of vegetarian options in its catering provisions, but not vegan options, whilst Oxfordshire County Council — one of the 19 local authorities categorised as 'green' in The Vegan Society’s report — ensures that the catering for external meetings is completely plant-based and that one third of meals in the local primary schools are vegan.
The report reveals that a quarter of councils did not acknowledge their responsibility to consider veganism as a protected characteristic when making catering decisions, and many public sector menus frequently fail to consistently include a single vegan option. In the UK, veganism is recognised as a protected belief and councils have a legal responsibility to provide adequate options for those who choose to live a vegan lifestyle.
In addition to their legal responsibility to cater for vegans, the National Food Strategy has recommended that local authorities act to promote sustainable diets in order to reduce emissions in response to the climate crisis.
Claire Ogley, head of campaigns, policy and research at The Vegan Society, said: “Our new report reveals which areas are excelling and which are falling behind.
"It’s fantastic to see some councils – such as Oxford and Edinburgh – leading the way and taking strong steps to include vegans and acknowledge the urgency of the climate crisis. However, for many local authorities – including Wolverhampton – there is still a long way to go and we hope our report will be a useful tool to help people to hold their local areas to account and push for more sustainable options.
"Ensuring that all public sector menus provide a 100 per cent plant-based option every day is a crucial step towards vegan-inclusion across the UK and to encourage the transition to a more sustainable and healthier food system for everyone.”
Wolverhampton Council has been approached for comment.