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Amsterdam endorses global Plant Based Treaty

February 2, 2024

Amsterdam has recently taken the initiative to advocate for a worldwide 'Plant-Based Treaty', marking a significant step as the first European capital to do so. In collaboration with 25 other municipal governments globally, the city council endorsed the treaty, designed to tackle the environmental, health, and ethical consequences of current systems.

Furthermore, Amsterdam is introducing a novel food strategy committed to facilitating equitable access to nutritious, ethical, and affordable food and beverages across the city. As part of this strategy, the city has set an ambitious goal to transition the 'protein ratio' in its residents' diets from the current 40% plant-based to 60% by the year 2030.

During a recent discussion on Newstalk Breakfast, Lisette Weustenenk, an advocate for the Plant-Based Treaty campaign, emphasized the campaign's focus on raising awareness about the impact of food systems on the climate. She highlighted the need for political discourse on food system change, emphasizing that the environmental impact of our diets is often overlooked in climate change discussions.

Amsterdam's new plan includes four key objectives:

• All publicly funded institutions are required to offer 'full plant-based meal options' to employees, visitors, and patients from this year;

• Public institutions' restaurants and catering facilities must observe a 'Vegan Friday' starting this year;

• All restaurants and catering services must commit to achieving Amsterdam's target protein ratio by 2030;

• The city will host an annual plant-based conference involving care institutions, schools, universities, and other public entities.

Weustenenk acknowledged that the plan may initially face resistance, especially from farmers. She mentioned recent farmer protests in the Netherlands and recognized the conflicting interests. The campaign, however, aims to encourage farmers to transition to more sustainable practices. Weustenenk expressed hope that farmers could explore alternative products and urged the government to play a pivotal role in supporting this transition, emphasizing the importance of a sustainable model for the future of farming as a generational family profession.

Lisette Weustenenk highlighted that the central focus of the plan is to guarantee the availability of plant-based options "everywhere you go" within the city. She clarified that this approach doesn't limit choices but aims to provide an additional option that aligns with environmental, ethical, and health considerations.

The Plant-Based Treaty campaign has garnered support from well-known vegans such as musician Moby. Weustenenk expressed optimism that Amsterdam's proactive stance will serve as a positive example, potentially paving the way for other European cities to adopt similar measures in promoting plant-based alternatives and addressing the broader issues associated with food systems.

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