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Meatless Cities: A Workshop on How Cities Can Help Lead the Transition to a Plant-Forward Food System
June 15, 2021 – June 16, 2021
By invitation only.
Reducing meat consumption can help to improve human health, reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as other forms of environmental damage, and limit the suffering of animals raised as livestock. Cities have an opportunity to help facilitate a societal transition towards a plant-forward food system, however, there are uncertainties about the limits of their authority to enact certain policies and open questions about the benefits and drawbacks of different approaches. This workshop will bring together academics, policymakers, industry professionals, and other experts to explore potential strategies that local governments can employ to reduce the consumption of meat within their jurisdictions.
During four sessions over the course of two days, this workshop will explore four types of strategies that cities may turn to: economic incentives, informational policies, procurements policies, and bans, boycotts, and divestments. Attendees may elect to join any one or more of these sessions.
This workshop will take place virtually via Zoom. Please refer to this page for any updates.
Day 1 | June 15, 2021
12:00 – 12:30 PM
Introductory Panel – Breaking Down the Arguments for Limiting Meat Consumption
There are a myriad of environmental, ethical, and health reasons for why cities may be interested in reducing their meat consumption. This opening panel will introduce the project and set the stage for the upcoming discussions by outlining arguments for limiting our meat consumption and explaining why we believe it’s essential to consider the scope of cities’ authority to encourage a shift towards plant-based diets.
- Jeff Sebo, Clinical Associate Professor of Environmental Studies, NYU
- Katrina Wyman, Sarah Herring Sorin Professor of Law, NYU
12:30 – 1:30 PM
Session 1: Exploring Strategies for Local Action Part I – Economic Incentives
Moderator: Katrina Wyman, Sarah Herring Sorin Professor of Law, NYU
While no cities or states in the United States have implemented a “meat tax” or other similar charges, several other countries, including Germany, Denmark, and Sweden, have considered introducing such measures, and some recent academic literature has presented them as effective options for reducing meat consumption. This panel will discuss the potential for introducing economic incentives to influence consumer choices by altering the price of meat, as well as some of the concerns and challenges associated with such incentives.
1:30 – 2:30 PM
Session 2: Exploring Strategies for Local Action Part II – Informational Policies
Moderator: Danielle Spiegel-Feld, Executive Director, Guarini Center on Environmental, Energy, and Land Use Law, NYU
Cities around the world have introduced policies aimed at raising public awareness about the benefits of limiting meat consumption, including through Meatless Monday resolutions, labels, informational campaigns, and local climate action plans. This panel will discuss the introduction and effectiveness of these informational policies, and their potential for expansion.
Day 2 | June 16, 2021
12:00 – 1:00 PM
Session 3: Exploring Strategies for Local Action Part III – Procurement Policies
Moderator: Adalene Minelli, Legal Fellow, Guarini Center on Environmental, Energy, and Land Use Law, NYU
Procurement policies aim to reduce the amount of meat and dairy products that a city purchases, and push for facilities to explore and provide alternative offerings. Many cities have already adopted the Good Food Purchasing Program or similar initiatives, and have introduced such policies in government buildings, schools, hospitals, and other institutions. This panel will discuss the proliferation and effectiveness of these procurement policies and other options for using procurement to effectively encourage a transition away from meat.
1:00 – 2:00 PM
Session 4: Exploring Strategies for Local Action Part IV – Bans, Boycotts & Divestments
Moderator: Jeff Sebo, Clinical Associate Professor of Environmental Studies, NYU
Although we have not yet seen any general bans on meat products, several cities have introduced targeted bans on certain types of animal products such as foie gras. Moreover, many cities have mandated emissions reductions, including food-related emissions, and some, such as NYC, have introduced resolutions to divest from agricultural industries for their role in accelerating climate change. This panel will explore the potential for bans, boycotts, and divestments in reducing meat and dairy consumption in cities, as well as some of their potential challenges.
This workshop is made possible by the generous support of The Brooks Institute for Animal Rights Law and Policy.