Goodbye to German Minister who said "no" to meat at official events

vegetarian catering
CC BY-SA 2.0 Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung

When you think Germany, what comes to mind? If you said beer and bratwurst, you wouldn't be alone. Anyone second for schnitzel?

In spite of the fact that many Germans take advantage of at least one vegetarian option offered in every company cafeteria, and that Germany has been a leader in launching the most vegan food products, it caused an uproar last year when German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks announced that meat and fish would no longer be served at German EPA official functions.

As Hendricks is leaving office as part of the turnover in the new government, we checked in with the German Ministry for Environment, Conservation, Construction, and Nuclear Safety (BMUB, or Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz, Bau und Reaktorsicherheit) ourselves to see how the experiment in meatless meetings went. In response to our request, the Ministry described their success:

"We were fortunately able to implement the vegetarian requirements at the 74 events with catering for guests from the beginning to the end of the legislative period. Justified exceptions existed at only six events. So it works very well - usually even when partners are involved in the organization of events."

It has been reported that for two of the six events for which exceptions were allowed, the Environment Ministry acceded to the demands of the partner involved in organizing the event. The "justified reasons" in the other four cases cannot be known as there was no procedure to record them.

Hendricks leaves a parting gift for those seeking to reduce their climate change footprint with a care-full diet. Earlier this year, the Environment Ministry announced that it is supporting development of a Climate-plate app (KlimaTeller app) together with a pair of German NGOs Greentable and
NAHhaft.

The KlimaTeller App will help restaurants to calculate the CO2 footprint of their recipes. Meals that meet criteria for lower greenhouse gas emissions will be eligible to have a climate plate symbol near the menu entry, to encourage customers to pick the more environmentally friendly options.

Hendricks' replacement, Svenja Schulze has been active in the SlowFood movement. We hope she will follow the lead in using official events to set an example for how people can make a difference.

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