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Haywards Heath Green Party councillor Richard Nicholson (pictured above) has signed the town up to The Plant Based Treaty, here's how it was reported in the news.

This article was in The Metro Wednesday 17th August 2022

A town has pledged to turn vegan by shifting to plant-based meals for pupils and patients.

Haywards Heath in West Sussex, with a population of 34,000, is vowing to offer vegan-only options in its schools and hospitals and will also give awards to those making the move.

It is the first in Europe to sign the Plant Based Treaty, joining cities including Buenos Aires, Argentina and Boynton Beach, Florida and across the US.

The Treaty demands communities move away from animal farming, with backers including committed vegetarian Sir Paul Mccartney, 80, who has urged governments to get on board.
Experts say doing so dramatically reduces the environmental impact of our diets.
- Respectfully, we disagree, it is however refreshing to have this story reported rather differently in other publications:

The Sun, stated:

'Angry campaigners last night hit out at "nanny state meddling", which they said would cripple the farming industry.'

Not quite how we would word it but the sentiment is there. So what is this Plant Based Treaty and does it have any real power?


What is - The Plant Based Treaty

We were curious as to what the Plant Based Treaty actually is so here's the website 

We've added our comments to the main points laid out in the treaty. Bold and italics is the treaty manifesto and our comments follow.

Demand 1 | Relinquish: Stop the problem increasing

No land use change, including deforestation, for animal agriculture - We have a BIG issue with this! Our farmers are restoring and repairing depleted arable land though the use of regenerative animal agriculture.

No building of new animal farms - What does this mean? Factory farms, we're with you regenerative farms aren't really 'built'

No building of new slaughterhouses - We desperately need new small abattoirs. Since animal farming still very much exists this potentially will put pressure on farmers to transport their animals further creating more stress, not less.

No expansion or intensification of existing farms - No intensification, ok, good.

No conversion of plant-based agriculture to animal agriculture - Again, see above, no nuance, a terrible concept. Grazing animals are the most effective way to restore and repair depleted arable systems

No conversion of any land for animal feed production - Again, so lacking in nuance, no cover crops that could sequester carbon fix nitrogen and feed animals? 

No clearing of forests or other ecosystems for animal grazing, animal rearing or animal farming of any kind- Surely this should apply to all agriculture at all, to clear forests for plants is just as destructive.


Demand 2 | Redirect: Eliminate the driving forces behind the problem

Promotion of plant-based foods and actively transition away from animal-based food systems to plant-based systems - WOW, how utterly devoid of detail or nuance. Plants can be grown in ways that create utter destruction, or in harmony with living ecosystems, just as animal agriculture can, the details are important.

The next bit is beyond belief in its over simplified vegan rhetoric,

Declare a climate emergency – join the 1,900+ local governments in 34 different countries that have already done so.  - Yes, we need to address the elephant in the room being fossil fuels not cows.

Food security should be placed as a priority for all nations, with a focus on ending poverty and hunger and making nutritious food accessible for all  - We agree on the sentiment but probably not the solution.

Acknowledge and support the pivotal role small farmers have in feeding the planet; support them to maintain (or restore) autonomy over their lands, water, seeds and other resources - We agree with this, wow.

Prioritize a switch to plant-based foods in Climate Action Plans
Update government food and dietary guidelines to promote wholefood, plant-based food - All foods should ideally be whole foods but we wonder if mass adoption of veganism means more or less processed foods are consumed, we would guess more, especially in the British winter

Design public information campaigns to raise awareness about the climate and the environmental advantages and health benefits of plant-based food, nutrition and cooking  - It will be interesting to see where this information comes from.

Aim to reduce the public’s consumption of animal-based food through education in schools - Numerous studies including this one have shown vegan children to have lower muscle mass and lower bone density as well as stunted growth compared to omnivores.

Transition to plant-based meal plans in schools, hospitals, nursing homes, prisons and government institutions  - This is simply a terrible idea. Numerous studies, including this one, have shown slower healing and recovery from post operative trauma by vegans than omnivores

Mandate honest labelling of food products, including cancer warning labels on all processed meats which have been declared carcinogenic by the World Health Organization - We've written about this in the past so we won't go too deep on the WHO but the evidence to put even processed meat into the same carcinogen category as being a hairdresser is very weak, do they also want cancer warnings on salons?

Introduce a meat tax (including fish) with proceeds funding restoration of land destroyed by animal agriculture - How about a tax on ANY industrially produced food including mono crops and subsidies for regenerative production/

Subsidize fruits and vegetables to make a wholefoods, plant-based diet more affordable and end food deserts that hurt low income communities  - Let's subsidise the most nutrient dense foods which some from well raised animals.

Redirect government subsidies for animal agriculture, slaughterhouses and industrial fishing to environmentally-friendly production of plant-based food - Don't know where to start with this, potentially subsidise plant based fake meat replacements made by huge corporations instead of farmers in the area.

End government subsidized advertising for the meat, dairy and egg industry - Again, ending subsidies of the most nutrient dense foods is a very poor idea for a population that is undernourished and over fed.

Create green bonds to fund a transition to a plant-based economy
Provide financial support and training for farmers, ranchers and fisherpeople to move away from animal production to diversified (ideally organic agroecological) plant-based systems - Still waiting to see how this veganic permaculture can operate at scale, in principle it's been around since the 1950s and still nothing.

Demand 3 | Restore: Actively healing the problem while building resilience and mitigating climate change

Restore key ecosystems and reforest the earth - Agreed! 

Reforestation projects to be rolled out in appropriate ecosystems using native tree species to restore habitats to a previously similar state - Agreed, as long as it doesn't take productive land out of production

Restore key degraded ecosystems which are essential for carbon sequestration cycles: mangroves, peat bogs, forests, some types of grassland - Yes! In the UK we have a lot of steady state grassland  that can fulfil this whilst still producing nutritious food for us.

Focus shift on nature-based solutions for climate change mitigation and adaptation - A little vague but yes..

Subsidies made available for farmers and landowners who practise good land stewardship and are actively restoring the land and the associated ecosystem services (such as carbon sequestration, biodiversity, flood defence, general climate change resilience) - Absolutely! We're agreeing with rather more in this section

Subsidies made available for rewilding and reforestation projects - Yes, fine.

Incentivised subsidies / grants for farmers to switch from animal agriculture to diversified plant production - And it all goes wrong again. How? Why? Where? This oversimplified directive could wreak ecological havoc if permanent pasture is ploughed up for example.

Cities: increase trees and wildflowers, increase green community projects, wildlife corridors, green rooftops, local growing schemes, work towards biodiversity increases - Yes, great

Enhance food justice by providing access to healthy food for all, especially low-income communities of color - Yes.

Repurpose available land freed up from animal grazing and animal feed production for: rewilding, reforestation (if appropriate), returning land to indigenous people, nature reserves, hiking zones, community growing, allotments (if appropriate), agroecological food growing (where possible) - We don't intent to free up grazing land but if we did this would be a good use.

Shift of some land ownership into community hands so the land can be repurposed for reforestation, green space and community food gardens and allotments - How? By forcibly removing it from the legitimate owner?


The takeaway

So that's what Richard Nicholson, in his wisdom, has signed haywards Heath up to. If you'd like to ask him about this you can email him on: