New York City - Pioneering a Plant-Based Future

This week Bill De Blasio, Mayor of New York, unveiled the city’s Green New Deal; an ambitious plan designed to cut carbon emissions beyond those targeted by the Paris Agreement and in the process create tens of thousands of jobs. The published strategy, entitled OneNYC 2050, has been put together to ensure the city is ‘strong and fair’ for future generations.

The framework introduces some world-leading initiatives including heavy penalties for large inefficient buildings who refuse to lower their emissions and a city-wide end to single-use plastic food wares, but it does not stop there. OneNYC 2050 addresses the enormous environmental impact of meat and dairy farming that has been well documented, inferring some exciting projections for the plant-based and vegan industries along the way.

The City plans to ‘phase out purchases of processed meat’, ensuring it ‘will be replaced by healthier proteins, including an increase in plant-based options’.  Hospitals are pioneering this trend by offering such wares throughout their services, while a Meatless Monday pilot in 15 schools was so successful that it is being rolled out across the city for the start of the next academic year. Finally, action is being taken immediately to reduce purchasing of beef by 50%, potentially in response to recent statistics by the World Economic Forum that dairy and beef industries are responsible for greater carbon emissions than the world’s largest oil companies.

Before this report the Big Apple was already known as the best city in the U.S for vegans and vegetarians, so the release of OneNYC 2050 only strengthens its position. Should the contents of this project play out in full then New York could become the epicentre for global diet change, if it isn’t already.

So how long until other major cities and governments around the world follow suit and align themselves with this ground-breaking, planet-based stance? As already mentioned the argument for the masses to move towards more of a plant-based diet is overwhelming, yet many developed countries still drag their heels in addressing the need for change. The UK Government has recently come under fire for doctoring statistics related to emissions and supporting fossil fuel exploration, something teen activist Greta Thunberg told parliament was ‘beyond absurd’. It would not be a leap of faith to assume that diet is not currently high on their list of priorities.

Despite this, the ‘vegan boom’ continues to gather momentum in the UK, as it does in many parts of the USA and beyond. As profiled in the first of our wine diaries, this key growth indicator is driving change in many industries and causing large-scale ripening in many others such as vegan and plant-based. Those that are already there are enjoying the ride, while new producers and retailers emerge on a daily basis.

By taking Meatless Mondays into schools the City of New York have not just embraced a wave of popularity. They are ensuring that future generations are being educated about their diet and add considerable long-term weight to the movement of the plant-based option into the mainstream. A drive for change always starts somewhere, so we will be watching with fingers crossed that OneNYC 2050 provides the results that everyone in the organic and vegan industry is hoping for.