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Meat Advertising Now Banned in This Dutch City to Combat Climate Change

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Haarlem, a small Dutch city just west of Amsterdam, announced this week that it would ban meat advertising in public spaces to combat climate change further. The decision to do this is part of a broader legislation campaign in the city of Haarlem to ban promotions for products that have a negative impact on climate change, including fossil fuels, airline flights, and gasoline-powered cars. Although bans like this have been implemented nationwide in places like France and in cities worldwide, Haarlem is the first to restrict meat advertising exclusively. 

Ziggy Klazes, a counselor for the GroenLinks Party, spoke with Trouw, a local newspaper, on the decision.” Meat is just as harmful to the environment. We can’t tell people there’s a climate crisis and encourage them to buy products that are part of the cause.”

This aggressive move reflects the global sentiment that we must avoid meat to save the planet because of the amount of gas methane that cattle belch out and the grazing space they require. In addition, meat consumption is believed to be responsible for 60 percent of the entire planet’s greenhouse gases, especially in wealthy nations where meat consumption is the highest.   

“Next to flying less, it is probably right to say that, as individuals, reducing beef consumption is the most significant contribution [to climate action] directly under our control,” said Alexandre Koberle, a research fellow at Imperial College London’s Grantham Institute for Climate Change. According to climate change experts, beef produces the most greenhouse gas emissions, which include methane. Lamb has the next highest environmental footprint, but these emissions are 50% less than beef.

Banning ads in public spaces is just one way the government and climate change advocates have tried to discourage meat consumption. Some other tactics that have been used include shaming meat posts on social media and attempting to update dietary guidelines, which of course, would consist of consuming less meat. 

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The meat industry in the Netherlands was swift in responding to this nationwide campaign to vilify the meat industry. “The authorities are going too far in telling people what’s best for them,” said a Central Organisation for the Meat Sector spokesman.

The right-wing BVNL party called it an “unacceptable violation of entrepreneurial freedom” and said it “would be fatal for pig farmers.” Haarlem’s BVNL Council Joey Rademaker said, “Banning commercials from politically born motives is almost dictatorial.”

Herman Bröring, a law professor from the University of Groningen, said this ban if implemented, could very well infringe on freedom of expression and lead to lawsuits down the road from wholesalers across the Netherlands. 

According to statistics in that region, a staggering 95% of people in the Netherlands still consume meat, although half of them do not eat it daily. 

Other European nations are fighting back as well. Last year in Oxfordshire, England, it was reported that an Oxford Green Party councilor called for all party events to be meat- and dairy-free. The motion was foolishly passed and extended to the county, where the Council also chose to remove meat and dairy from its catering options. Jeremy Clarkson, a local farmer in Oxfordshire, fought back and, through a brilliant loophole, opened up a meat-only eatery where he refuses to serve vegetarian food called Diddly Squat. Jeremey Clarkson is a legend. He even penned a book called When the Cows Come Home. 

Haarlem has not decided yet if the ban will extend to advertisements for grass-fed animals, but the ads are expected to apply to buses, billboards, and screens in public spaces and will go into effect in 2024.