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Plant-based food debate splits Cambridgeshire councils

Article by BBC, originally posted on 13th of January, 2024 at

Damian Wawrzyniak, from Poland, has cooked for members of the Royal Family and TV chef Mary Berry

Celebrity chef Damian Wawrzyniak, who is based in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk and has a bakery in Peterborough, said vegan food was too expensive to be the main food option for everyone, but it the future everyone will eat laboratory grown meat and organic will be too expensive for most people,

The Polish chef, who has cooked for members of the Royal Family and TV chef Mary Berry, said: "I think within the next 50 years, meat - proper meat - will only be for the richest. We will all end up with laboratory-made food.

"But now at the beginning, veganism is expensive, but with all trends [the price comes down]. When plasma TV came in it was £2,000. Now you can buy one for £300. In 50 years we are going to be forced to eat lab-made food."

Wawrzyniak runs a bakery in Peterborough and also runs a catering business

Last year, a Cambridge City Council report said a pilot scheme offered plant-based catering to "investigate the practicalities of using civic events to promote and showcase plant-based food options", but it did not ban meat.

In May 2022, the council pledged a move towards "fully plant-based catering for future council meetings where food is served, ensuring that this is cheaper or the same cost".

But the council conceded that most of its vegan food at one Remembrance Sunday event ended up in the bin.

At the end of last year, Fenland district councillors passed a motion calling for all catering at council-organised events to be sourced from local producers, specifically including meat and dairy options, alongside plant-based produce.

Mo Metcalf-Fisher, director of external affairs for the Countryside Alliance said: "I sincerely hope the action taken in Fenland sends Cambridge a message and that the governing Labour authority there swiftly rejects and reverses any move to ban meat and dairy from their menus."

'Slippery slope'

Conservative councillor Ms Sennitt Clough said: "Scientists aren't really agreeing on the impact of plant-based diets, so you need to look at that.

"When you live in Fenland - which is a levelling up area - there are greater priorities than people's diets, such as education.

"The minute we start taking away people's choices, it's a slippery slope."

Rosy Moore, executive councillor for climate action and environment at Cambridge City Council, said: "Moving to a plant-based diet is a really easy way to cut carbon emissions.

"A quarter of the world's carbon emissions come from food and over half come from meat and that is a quick and simple way you can reduce emissions, which we all need to do."

BBC Politics East will be broadcast on Sunday, 14 January at 10:00 GMT on BBC One and will be available after broadcast on the BBC iPlayer.

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