Mayor Wants to Create Italy’s First ‘Vegetarian City’
But will the region’s meat producers agree?
With traditional dishes such as lasagna, ragu alla bolognese, and salami-topped pizzas gracing Italian menus across the world, Italy is not the first country you’d expect to create a vegetarian city.
But Chiara Appendino, new mayor of Turin, the capital of Italy’s Piedmont region, is laying the groundwork to do just that.
This week she pledged that promoting a vegetarian and vegan diet would be a “priority” for her administration.
Elected as mayor on the crest of support for Italy’s growing Five Star Movement in June, she is already promoting the populist movement’s environmentalist agenda.
Founded by comedian and blogger Beppe Grillo and web strategist Gianroberto Casaleggio, the Five Star Movement is causing a storm in Italian politics. In June it secured big victories, with two of its female candidates winning the mayoral elections in Rome and Turin.
It takes its name from the five key issues for the anti-establishment party: public water, sustainable transport, sustainable development, the right to internet access, and environmentalism.
Scientists estimate that agriculture contributes 15% of all carbon emissions, and half of these come from the meat industry. Beef is a particularly notorious culprit, causing five times more emissions than other meats.
Environmentalists have long called for a reduction in meat consumption — from ‘Meat-free Monday’ campaigns across workplaces, schools, and university campuses, to stars like Leonardo DiCaprio campaigning to promote a beef-free diet.
Appendino’s pledge is a bold move. While her pledge to scale back meat consumption is a positive step for the environment, Appendino will need to balance her environmental agenda with the needs of the region’s meat producers, who are dependent on the industry for her livelihoods. Still, tackling climate change requires decisive, and potentially radical, changes to the way we eat, live and produce. Appendino’s announcement demonstrates a determination to make ambitious reforms. Is it time other leaders followed suit?