STROLLING around Edinburgh on a warm’s summer day is one of life’s great pleasures, particularly during the festival season.

It has an air of class and confidence that is unmatched in Scotland’s other great cities each of which have their own charms. The view as you walk up the steps of Waverley station and look left and see the castle and Princes Street is among the best cityscapes in the world.

The city also has a burgeoning reputation as a culinary delight with four Michelin-starred restaurants and dozens more which are award-winning.

But that may be about to change after Edinburgh became the first European capital to become vegan.

The whole city too – not just the hipster districts. The council has committed itself to introduce a shift towards plant-based diets to lower the city’s “consumption-based emissions”.

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The city’s council has endorsed the Plant Based Treaty, launched during Cop26 in Glasgow, which calls for a move towards diets with less consumption of meat and dairy products.

The treaty urges for the swap in order to reduce food-related emissions and help tackle climate change.

The council leader has also committed to writing to the First Minister requesting the Scottish Government follows suit. Quite how the government would follow suit is not specified but I’m sure the Greens have already tried to nobble Nicola Sturgeon within the confines of Bute House.

Of course, there may well be benefits to such a thing, quite what they are is anyone’s guess, but it smacks purely of virtue signalling of the highest order.


There is little doubt that amongst the good burghers of Stockbridge, Morningside and Murrayfield there is probably a fair proportion of vegans and vegetarians – and fair play to them. But numbers in some of the less well-off parts of the city such as Wester Hailes, Muirhouse and Craigmillar are probably far fewer.

For these citizens, food consumption is based purely on cost – they simply cannot afford to make a lifestyle choice on diets – particularly during a cost of living crisis.

What will happen to them when the city becomes totally vegan – will frozen burgers and chicken dippers become illegal and those caught buying them be papped off to HMP Saughton? Of course, like so many of these pointless and expensive exercises to make politicians feel good about themselves the truth is that absolutely nothing will really change.

The only thing that will happen is that every public building in the city will have to introduce plant-based dietary options on every menu which will only add cost to already cash-strapped bodies.

Meanwhile, no doubt councillors will still be able to enjoy meat and fish in their subsidised canteen. Before the decision was made, the council carried out an impact assessment into the plans. The report claims: “Overall, the science is clear, meat and dairy consumption must reduce to achieve climate targets”.

Food and diet account for 23 per cent of Edinburgh’s consumption-based footprint with 12% of these emissions from the consumption of meat, whatever that proves.

I think huge queues of stationary traffic caught in congestion on the city’s streets is much worse for the environment as indeed are all the new flights from the airport that the same council hails almost on a weekly basis.

But the council can’t really tackle these issues so they resort to pointless schemes that mean nothing. The Cop26 treaty’s demands include transitioning to plant-based meal plans in schools, hospitals and nursing homes, introducing a ‘meat tax’, banning the development of any new farms that have livestock and agreeing not to halt the expansion of any existing farms.

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It is ‘inspired’ by agreements that have addressed the threats of ozone layer depletion and nuclear weapons – and we all know how successful they’ve been.

Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a vegan diet, but it isn’t for everyone and people should not be guilt-tripped into adopting one. Everyone could and should eat more fruit and veg but only on health grounds.

The science behind the environmental impact of livestock farming is less than clear and should be taken with a large pinch of Himalayan rock salt. Some people, particularly vegans, believe it is the single biggest cause of emissions and must be banned while others say that is utter nonsense.

The truth is, almost certainly, somewhere in between and public bodies should stop pandering to minority groups at the expense of the majority.