Haarlem is banning all meat advertising from public spaces in an effort to discourage consumption, as a campaign to highlight the health and economic benefits of meat kicks off.
The ban, agreed last year and effective from 2024, was made official last week, making Haarlem the first city in the world to add meat to a list of banned fossil ads for products that contribute to polluting nitrogen emissions.
Amsterdam, Leiden and The Hague have already banned ads for flying, petrol powered cars and the fossil fuel industry, but stopped short at meat.
‘Meat is just as harmful to the environment,’ Haarlem GroenLinks councillor Ziggy Klazes, who tabled the motion, told Trouw. ‘We can’t tell people there’s a climate crisis and encourage them to buy products that are part of the cause.’
The motion was supported by the Christian Democrats (CDA), despite party leader Wopke Hoekstra’s recent support for protesting farmers. ‘We are more sustainable than the national party,’ CDA councillor Ron Dreijer told the paper.
It is not yet clear if more sustainably produced meat will also be included in the ban, councillors said.
In a reaction, the meat sector, which has recently started ‘Nederland Vleesland’, a campaign to promote meat eating as ‘a matter of taste’ as well as economic benefit, said it was unhappy with the ban. ‘The authorities are going too far in telling people what’s best for them,’ spokesman for industry body Centrale Organisatie voor de Vleessector, told the paper.
The ban may possibly be regarded as an infringement of free speech, but then again some infringements are allowed, professor of administrative law Herman Bröring said. ‘ A legal challenge from Ahold or Jumbo could result in an interesting legal battle, he said.
News of the ban also comes in the wake of a claim by animal welfare organisation Wakker Dier that former agriculture minister Carola Schouten (CDA) tried to suppress a message to eat less meat in a climate awareness campaign.
Meat eaters still account for some 95% of the population. Over half do not eat meat every day of the week and only five percent of the population eats no meat at all, CBS figures from 2021 show.
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