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Meat advertisement in Haarlem, Netherlands
Photograph: Shutterstock / Time Out

This city is banning adverts for meat – could yours be next?

Haarlem in the Netherlands says it is banning meat ads for the sake of the environment

Ed Cunningham
Written by
Ed Cunningham

Ask any vegan about the meat industry and they’ll no doubt chew yer ear off about why it’s the root of all evil. And, y’know, they do sort of have a point. Even if you put stuff like animal cruelty aside, meat production is one of the leading causes of global warming. According to the UN, a whopping 14 percent of all greenhouse gases are produced by livestock.

One city in the Netherlands agrees – and is taking drastic action. Haarlem, about ten miles from Amsterdam, will become the first city in the world to ban the advertising of meat in most public spaces. That could include everything from supermarket chicken to fast-food burgers, though the draft bill hasn’t yet specified whether sustainably-produced meats would get a pass.

The ban has been drafted by green political party GroenLinks and could come into effect as soon as 2024. Opponents of the ban – many of whom are, as you’d expect, from the meat sector – say it’s patronising and that it would stifle free speech.

There are several reasons why meat production produces greenhouse gases and worsens global warming. For one, forests are often cleared to make way for livestock grazing and the production of animal feed, reducing the Earth’s capacity to take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Then there’s the fact that animals themselves produce greenhouse gases: sheep and cows, for instance, produce loads of methane from their, er, digestive processes.

Haarlem’s policy is part of a wider ban on advertising things that increase fossil-fuel consumption. It also includes things like holiday flights and cars, as well as, obviously, advertisements for oil and gas. It isn’t the only city to have done so, either: Amsterdam has banned ads from fossil fuel and aviation companies, while Norwich in the UK has also banned adverts for ‘environmentally damaging’ products

So could we see similar bans implemented in other cities around the world? Well, maybe. It seems to take the election of particularly progressive, green-minded politicians to bring in such radical policies. And for better or worse, most cities simply aren’t there yet. But watch this (advertising) space.

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