HELSINKI (AP) – The Finnish capital has said it will no longer serve meat at seminars, staff meetings, receptions and other events in order to reduce Helsinki’s carbon footprint.
Instead, the city government plans to offer vegetarian options and sustainable local fish.
Liisa Kivela, director of communications for Helsinki, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the change would take effect in January and exclude cafeterias in schools and workplaces run by the city of about 650,000 residents.
Kivela said the policy adopted by the city council also allows exemptions for certain “high-level visits or similar events” organized by Helsinki Mayor Juhana Vartiainen or senior city officials.
The policy also states that coffee, tea and items like bananas offered at events must come from fair trade producers. In addition, oat milk would replace regular milk, and snacks and refreshments can no longer be served in single-use containers.
The local government said in a statement that the measure was part of a larger effort “that aims to reduce the climate impact of food and reduce the amount of natural resources used by the city.”
The mayor, who held Helsinki’s top post in August, said he was happy the city retains the option of serving meat on certain occasions.
“For example, if the King of Sweden arrives for a visit, then domestic game may be offered. Or a group for whom it would be natural to offer meat, then there has to be discretion and common sense, ”Vartiainen told Finnish newspaper Iltalehti.
The city council decision announced this week sparked a heated debate on social media for and against the meat ban among citizens and politicians.
Particularly disturbed were voters’ legislators in rural Finland, where hunting is popular and game dishes are often served. Reindeer meat raised in the country is often served to visiting foreign dignitaries.
The Finnish Institute of Natural Resources said earlier this year that the meat consumption in the country of 5.5 million people has fallen for two consecutive years, as more people decide to prepare their burgers, sausages and minced meat from plant products rather than animals.
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