Berkeley goes vegan with Green Monday campaign

Californian city council joins meat reducing movement  

View of Downtown Oakland with Berkeley in the foreground view from above University of California Berkeley on an overcast hazy Northern California day

The city of Berkeley has added another feather to California’s already heavily plumed environmental cap by joining Green Monday. The campaign, like Meat Free Monday, encourages people to eat more plant-based food and less meat.

As part of a concerted effort to cut carbon emissions and protect the environment, three city council members – Cheryl Davila, Sophie Hahn and Kate Harrison – introduced a successful resolution calling on Berkeley to serve only meat free food at council facilities at the start of the week. Other cities around the world to have trodden this planet-saving route include GoudaTurin and, most recently, Tokyo.

Green Monday was founded in Hong Kong in 2012 by entrepreneur and environmental advocate David Yeung, and is a good fit for Berkeley, which has a proven track record of working to improve the health of its residents and the wider world. As well as being the first American city to have introduced a tax on sugary drinks (in some areas consumption dropped by a fifth as a result), it has also pledged to stop using fossil fuels by 2030. The latter was a response to a resolution passed unanimously in June (also proposed by Davila, Hahn and Harrison) that declared a climate emergency and requires the city to decarbonise urgently. Similar commitments were made last year by Hoboken in New Jersey and Meat Free Monday supporter Montgomery County in Maryland.

As the resolution spelled out – and as MFMers and increasing numbers of environment-minded readers already know: “Scientific analyses have shown that one of the most effective ways for a person to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions is to reduce or eliminate their consumption of meat and dairy. By systematically reducing meat and dairy consumption, the citizens of Berkeley can accomplish two objectives: substantially reducing our collective greenhouse gas emissions and serving as a model for other municipalities across the country and around the world.”

The resolution means all facilities and programmes managed, owned or run by the city will have to serve up one meat free day a week, presumably on a Monday, although the council is still debating the precise timing. More than that, the members sitting around to decide such matters will be eating only vegan food from now on, as the council has also decided to remove all animal-based products from food served at their meetings. Green Monday educational programmes will also be held at libraries, community centres and in people’s homes, while local eateries will be encouraged to add Green Monday vegan items to their menus.

“Our diet choice not only influences our personal health but also controls the destiny of the planet,” said Yeung. “That’s why the Green Monday Resolution passed by the Berkeley city council to advocate its businesses and residents to adopt a plant-centric diet and a holistic environmentally conscious lifestyle is a monumental step towards a sustainable future. As the Green Monday movement and platform is global, this Berkeley resolution will blaze an extremely important trail for the world to follow.”