Last week, Berkeley City Council passed a resolution committing itself to a long-term goal of going 100% plant-based to combat climate change and end animal exploitation.
The resolution states that by 2024, the city will switch 50% of its expenditures on animal-derived products such as meat, dairy, and eggs to plant-based. The final goal is to eliminate animal products completely.
The first-of-its-kind policy is the result of a 16-month advocacy effort by animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), according to a press release.
Besides DxE, several other groups also participated, including Extinction Rebellion Oakland, The Animal Save Movement, East Bay Animal PAC, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and The Suitcase Clinic.
Besides being cruel to billions of animals, factory farming is a leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation. Due to the prevalence of unhygienic conditions in these farms, where animals are confined in small spaces, they have also become breeding grounds for zoonotic diseases.
“This is a very important step for the city to take as part of our broader climate efforts, as well as building on our long tradition promoting the humane treatment of animals here in the city of Berkeley,” Berkeley’s Mayor Jesse Arreguín said.
This is not the first time Berkeley has taken a step to prevent environmental degradation. It took lead around 1970 to start the U.S.’ first ever recycling program, and also became the first city in the country to formally commit to divestment from fossil fuel companies in 2013.
In 2019, it became the first to ban natural gas appliances in new homes. Then in April this year, it became the first US city to request that its public employees’ retirement system divest from animal agriculture companies.
With similar divestment efforts in Chicago and elsewhere, and a partial shift to plant-based food purchasing already passed in San Francisco last year, DxE activists hope to see a ripple effect of this policy across the nation and globally.
“The public is rising up and taking action against the destructiveness of animal agriculture,” said Almira Tanner, a Berkeley resident and DxE’s Lead Organizer. “We’re hopeful this historic step can spur a wave of legislation to protect all life on Earth while we still have time.”