The government of Oslo has taken an authoritative stride towards a healthier, greener world by decreeing that its own politicians should enjoy a Meat Free Monday. Canteens in City Hall have been doing without meat for one day a week since the start of the month.
The hope is that the Norwegian capital’s 22 schools for 15 to 18-year-olds will follow suit in autumn with their own MFM, and that other municipal canteens in Oslo will join the campaign shortly afterwards – that means 15 town district offices and 33 official bodies, many of which have more than one canteen. As a result it’s likely that a large proportion of the 600,000-strong population of the city will soon be feeling the health and environmental benefits of eating less meat.
The proposal to adopt MFM at City Hall was put forward by animal rights group NOAH, which congratulated the city’s coalition Socialist, Green and Labour government for leading by example. This is NOAH’s second major meat-reducing achievement, having succeeded in 2012 in convincing the then-conservative government to introduce a vegetarian menu to all public canteens. Options for vegetarians and vegans are still limited outside Oslo, however.
While the scheme has yet to be rolled out across Norway as a whole, it is a step in the right direction for a country not renowned for its small consumption of meat and animal products: according to the Norwegian environmental group The Future in Our Hands, during the course of their life a typical Norweigan adult eats more than 1,147 chickens, 22 sheep, 6 cows and 3 deer.
There is also little awareness of the impact that the meat and livestock industry is having on the planet. A 2013 report by the country’s National Institute for Consumer Research showed that while concerns about the environment had driven 51 per cent of Norwegians to use less electricity, only 14 per cent said they had cut back on their meat eating for the same reason.
But efforts such as this suggests things are changing. And Norway as a whole proved its commitment to change for the better was growing when in 2013 the Norwegian Armed Forces adopted a vegetarian diet for one day a week. This move has reduced meat consumption among its services personnel by 150 tonnes a year.