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Since becoming Mayor 2016, I have acted to promote sustainable food in London. The Mayor’s London Food Strategy: Healthy and Sustainable Food for London is working to help make it easier for all Londoners to eat more healthily. Although it does not promote a solely vegetarian or vegan diet, the Strategy notes that for better health and to help lower the environmental impact of the food system, Londoners should consider eating less meat, and more fruit and more vegetable-based meals.
The London Food Strategy advocates that through better food procurement, businesses can help people eat healthier food produced to higher animal welfare and environmental standards. The Mayor is promoting sustainably-, ethically- and locally-sourced food across the GLA Group. The London Food Strategy recommends that businesses, local authorities and other public sector bodies should increase the amount of local, seasonal and sustainable food they buy, and measure their progress at providing a better balance of plant-based food compared to meat and dairy.
In addition, London signed a joint declaration on transitioning to a ‘planetary health diet’, along with other wold mayors during the C40 Cities summit on 10th October 2019. This involves eating more fruit, vegetables, nuts and legumes, and for many, less food from animal sources, whilst supporting an overall increase of healthy plant-based food consumption in our cities by shifting away from unsustainable, unhealthy diets.
In this context, the recent increase in people enjoying vegetarian and vegan diets is welcomed.
The café in City Hall and hospitality for events caters to a wide range of dietary and cultural requirements, including vegan, vegetarian, and other healthy and sustainable options. In addition, it has taken other environmental measures such as banning single-use plastic cutlery, drinks bottles and straws.
However, Londoners have the right to choose what they eat, and it would not be right for me to seek to make those choices for them by enforcing particular dietary restrictions on them via the menu in the City Hall café. For that reason, it would not be appropriate for the café in City Hall to offer solely vegan produce – though we will of course continue to offer vegan options to the many customers who do choose them.