Companies and businesses are allowed to encourage the Dutch to buy phones, washing powder, toothpaste and clothes, but in one place there is one thing adverts may no longer promote: meat.
Haarlem, close to Amsterdam in the northwest of the Netherlands, has become the first city in the world to ban all public adverts for meat products, in order to cut demand and tackle the climate crisis. That means no more shots of sizzling pork sausages or fast-food burgers on the sides of buses or bus shelters.
The ban, which was proposed by a councillor from the GroenLinks party, Ziggy Klazes, will come into force in 2024. Klazes insisted the move was not about curbing freedoms but taking decisive steps to tackle one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Two surveys this year revealed that a meat-eater’s carbon footprint is almost two-thirds that of someone who eats a plant-based diet, and that rearing animals for meat produces twice the pollution as growing plant-based foods.
“We are not about what people are baking or roasting in their own kitchen – if people wanted to continue eating meat, fine,” she said. “[But] we can’t tell people there’s a climate crisis and encourage them to buy products that are part of the cause.”
The Netherlands is a leading light in the battle to eat greener: not only are meat free meals ‘customary’ there, but The Hague is the home town of the Vegetarian Butcher, the plant-based butcher who started a global phenomenon and the city council of Nijmegen has a “default” vegetarian policy,
Klazes highlighted the symbolic value of being seen to act in the face of growing concern about the state of the environment and global leaders’ inability or unwillingness to act to arrest and reverse the worst effects of climate change.
“Of course there are a lot of people who find the decision outrageous and patronising, but there are also a lot of people who think it’s fine. It is a signal. There are many groups of GroenLinks who think it is a good idea and want to try it.”