Plant Based Treaty: Edinburgh Council's pledge to go vegan will never make me give up cheese – Susan Dalgety
Only time will tell if the city council’s decision to sign the global Plant Based Treaty has any impact on how Edinburgh people eat.
The initiative, supported by local government from California to West Sussex, aims to reduce food-based emissions by encouraging more people to eat plant-based food rather than meat and dairy. A recent council report shows that a significant amount of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the food we eat. “The science is clear, meat and dairy consumption must reduce to achieve climate targets,” said the report.
There is a danger that councillors make high-minded pledges simply for political effect, without any clear plan on how to implement change. They have promised a report on how they are going to encourage Edinburgh citizens to eat less meat, but I am not quite sure the city council is going to stop my grandchildren enjoying their favourite burgers, or my son tucking into a very large steak after a hard working week.
Believe me, I have tried, but chickpea patties don’t cut it with teenagers who crave a double whopper with cheese and bacon. And have you tried barbecuing a meatless steak?
But giving up meat for vegetables is easier than carnivores might think. And it benefits more than the planet. It is good for the family budget too as I found out when our two-person household switched from sausages to cannellini beans. Meat is expensive. And while the cost of living has seen veggies go up in price, it is still cheaper to feed a family of four on pasta pesto with a side salad than chicken and chips.
But I draw the line at a plant-based diet, as promoted by the council. That means giving up dairy as well as meat. Meat I can live without, but a cheese-free diet is unthinkable.
There is nothing better than cheese on toast made with strong cheddar, or a Greek salad loaded with feta, or squeaky halloumi fries. And the best of all, a very smelly Camembert oozing over your plate.
Getting people to change something as important to them as the food they eat will take a lot more than a roomful of councillors signing a pledge, no matter how genuine their concerns.