Does LA's City Council Embrace of Plant-Based Meats Have Any Teeth?
Los Angeles could soon be the largest U.S. city to sign an international pact to shift to a more plant-based food system. This week, the L.A. City Council voted in support of adopting the Plant Based Treaty, a grassroots campaign that calls for government to promote alternative proteins, and vegetarian diets in a shift away from the meat and dairy industries. If adopted, the treaty could be a boost to the plant-based food industry, which has seen a considerable dip in sales this year, primarily due to the growing uncertainty over the environmental benefits of plant-based proteins and more price-conscious consumers.
Still, it’s unclear what steps Los Angeles will actually take to comply with the treaty, which calls for subsidies on fruits and vegetables, a tax on meats and introducing plant-based meal plans in schools and prisons, among other policy measures. The resolution — which was introduced by Council member Paul Koretz (a noted advocate of plant-based foods) — still needs to be signed by L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti.
“This landmark resolution marks a vital cultural shift as Americans prioritize both combating climate change and improving their health,” said Koretz in a press release.
dot.LA has reached out to Koretz and a number of other L.A. City Council members for comment, and will update if we hear back.
If adopted, the city will promise to follow the principles outlined in the treaty, which are abstractly entitled “Relinquish”, “Redirect” and “Restore.” The aim is to shift populations away from relying on animal agriculture, increase public awareness of plant-based proteins and restore ecosystems. The treaty also includes more concrete measures like a ban on building new animal farms, slaughterhouses, fish farms and all live exports. While it’s difficult to imagine that L.A. will adopt the Plant Based Treaty’s more hard-line measures, ostensibly, the idea is that by merely signing the treaty, it could encourage the city to do more to promote the plant-based industry.
The City Council’s vote comes in a year of numerous setbacks for the plant-based food industry: Sales of refrigerated plant-based meats at stores are down 10.5% by volume for the 52-week period that concluded on September 4, 2022. In addition, last week alternative protein company Beyond Meat announced it was laying off 200 employees, and will likely lay off more workers by the end of the year. Inflation is likely to be a chief cause of the dip in sales for the alternative meat industry, with fewer people willing to pay extra for higher-priced plant-based options.
Which is to say, if consumers are to embrace plant-based foods again, Los Angeles and the meatless food industry at large have some serious work to do.