Dutch City Is World’s First to Ban Meat Advertising

High angle view of river-side buildings in the city of Haarlem in the Netherlands
The city of Haarlem in the Netherlands is banning adverstisements for meat in public spaces. Cristian Bortes / EyeEm / Getty Images
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Billions of dollars are spent each year on food and beverage advertising in order to sway people’s food choices. In an effort to reduce the consumption of meat and the greenhouse gas emissions it produces, the Dutch city of Haarlem will become the world’s first to ban advertisements for meat in public spaces.

Haarlem, the eponymous city of Harlem, New York, is located to the west of Amsterdam. Haarlem added meat to a list of goods that were determined to contribute to the climate crisis, reported The Guardian. Advertisements for meat will be prohibited in the city of about 160,000 beginning in 2024. The wait is due to current contracts with the products’ companies.

“We can’t tell people there’s a climate crisis and encourage them to buy products that are part of the cause,” Haarlem GroenLinks councilor Ziggy Klazes, who drafted the motion, told Trouw, as Dutch News reported.

No meat advertisements will be permitted on buses, shelters or screens in Haarlem’s public spaces, reported Food Ingredients First.

The legislation also includes a ban on advertisements for fossil fuels, fossil fuel-powered cars and vacation flights, The Guardian reported.

“Meat is just as harmful to the environment,” Klazes said, as reported by Food Ingredients First.

City councilors said the legislation wasn’t clear regarding whether advertising meat that is more sustainably produced would also be prohibited.

The meat sector wasn’t pleased with the ban and came up with the catchphrase “Nederland Vleesland,” or “Netherlands food country,” to encourage the consumption of meat.

A spokesperson for the Central Organisation for the Meat Sector (COV) argued the ban was an issue of free speech.

“The authorities are going too far in telling people what’s best for them,” the COV spokesperson said, as Food Ingredients First reported.

According to recent studies, a third of all emissions contributing to global heating come from food production, with meat producing double the pollution of foods that are plant-based, reported The Guardian.

Forests are razed to make way for animal pastures, and nitrogen-rich fertilizers can contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer, as well as create water pollution. Animals also produce the potent greenhouse gas methane.

When drafting the legislation, Klazes wasn’t aware Haarlem would be the first city in the world to actually ban meat advertising.

“Of course, there are a lot of people who find the decision outrageous and patronising, but there are also a lot of people who think it’s fine… It is a signal – if it is picked up nationally, that would only be very nice,” Klazes told radio station Haarlem 105, as The Guardian reported.

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