Political Backlash When Green Party Mayor Takes Meat Off the Menu

By: Alex Trent | Published: Feb 28, 2024

A mayor for Worcester City has caused controversy after his recent ascension to the position by deciding to remove the serving of meat from the Mayor’s Parlour at Worcester Guildhall.

Last May, Councillor Louis Stephen was voted by members of the Worcester City Council as the city’s first Green Party mayor.

Saving the Climate

According to the Daily Mail, Stephen’s primary motivation for removing meat from the menu came from a desire to save the planet from climate change.

A sign underwater from climate change.

Source: Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

Meat production can cause a heavy strain on the climate because of the felling of trees that are required in some cases. Animals used for meat production require wide open grasslands and fields to graze on.


Consequences of Less Trees

As the number of trees declines, those remaining are unable to keep up with the increasing levels of CO2 in the air. According to the USDA, just one mature tree will absorb more than 48 pounds of CO2 from the atmosphere, replacing it with oxygen.

A forest full of cut down trees.

Source: Matt Palmer/Unsplash

An accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere like CO2 is correlated with rising global temperatures, which have negative consequences for the climate and the environments on earth that depend on it.

Inclusivity for Worcester City Residents

Another reason Stephen decided to stop serving meat at his receptions is that the process of eating meat varies between different cultures and religions. In an effort to be more inclusive, he decided to remove meat altogether, so no one is given preference over anyone else.

An overhead view of the Worcester City Center in the UK.

Source: Julian P Guffogg/Wikimedia

Some cultures or religions do not eat certain meat from certain animals like pigs or cows. Also, some people can only consume meat if it is prepared in a traditional or religious adherent way. The differing customs around meat can make it difficult to include everyone.

Council Members Push Back

During a council meeting on February 20, members of the Worcester City Council questioned the mayor on the validity of this decision. Conservative councillor for Bedwardine, Alan Amos, called the move  “outrageous” and insisted it’s actually discriminatory to not provide food for meat eaters. 

An empty council chamber.

Source: Hansjorg Keller/Unsplash

It has been a tradition after council meetings for councillors to relax in the Mayor’s Parlour and enjoy refreshments there. Typically, meat products have been served there.

Amos’ Question

Amos had previously served as the Mayor of Worcester between 2014 and 2015. During the Worcester Guildhall meeting, Amos put up a question for discussion.

Cuts of meat sprinkled with salt and peper.

Source: Cindie Hansen/Unsplash

“Why has a decision been made to deny any choice for the 93 per cent at post-Council receptions by instructing that no meat option for the 93 per cent should be provided?” he said


The Tyranny of the Left

Councillor Amos insisted this decision by Stephen constituted a tyrannical move that he viewed as typical of the left.

A police officer surrounded by reporters and cameras.

Source: Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona/Unsplash

He said, “Who made this decision? Who else was consulted? Is this another example of the tyranny of the illiberal Left?” In further comments, he added, “We are not an equal, inclusive and diverse council if we do not provide a choice to everyone.”


Amos Thinks There’s a Way to Cater to Everyone.

Amos remarked that during his term as Mayor, he made sure every group was catered to, be they vegans, vegetarians, or meat eaters.

A tray of prepared vegetable dishes.

Source: Ella Olsson/Unsplash

“We always had an option for vegetarians and an option for vegans. Certainly, when I was mayor, I would make sure there was an option for everybody, including vegetarians and vegans,” he said


It’s Not About Me

Amos insisted his comments were not coming with a personal bias, seeking to remove himself from the issue at hand.

Bowls filled with food at a catered event.

Source: Saile Ilyas/Unsplash

“This is not about me. I’m too fat and I eat too much anyway. I just won’t go to these events any more. But the principle is an important one – we can’t say we’re an equal, inclusive and diverse council if we make a policy decision not to provide any meat option at our catering functions. That is absolutely outrageous. It’s discrimination,” Amos said


Dairy Products Are Also Banned

Mayor Stephens also cut other animal-produced products like dairy from the menu.

Bread, cheese, eggs, and milk gathered on a table.

Source: Towfiqu Barbhuiya/Unsplash

According to New York Times reporting, dairy is also a huge contributor to global climate change that many people don’t think of. Products like milk, ice cream, yogurt, and cheese are estimated to contribute to about 3.6 percent of the total harmful, global warming emissions every year.


Defending the Ban

Stephens sees criticism of the ban as short-sighted and wishes people to have a more open mind, insisting there is no wider meat ban at the Guildhall.

A dish containing salmon and vegetables.

Source: RYNA studio/Unsplash

“It’s customary for the mayor to provide refreshments after the six full council meetings each year. Many people came up to me and said they’d never tried vegan food before but that they had enjoyed it,” he said


It’s the Mayor's Choice

Stephen defended his decision, viewing the ability to set the menu as his right and responsibility.

The Guildhall building in Worcester, UK.

Source: Ann/Wikimedia

“It is the mayor’s prerogative to decide what food and drink will be offered. I’m mindful of the gravity of the climate emergency, and as leader I think it’s right to highlight the importance of all of us doing what we can to mitigate the seriousness of the emergency, by offering plant-based food,” Stephen said.