Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks, an MP for the Social Democratic party, has led a move to make meals provided at government functions meat-free. The aim is to lead by example for environmentally sustainable consumption, recognising the comparatively high impacts of eating meat.
“We decided to take the symbolic step to ban meat and fish at external events because we want to practise what we preach,” an Environment Ministry spokesperson told the Guardian. “For us it was a matter of credibility.”
The first event subject to the new policy, a symposium on exporting green energy, met with some complaints of paternalism, including from Christian Schmidt, Germany’s Food Minister and a member of the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU).
The Guardian described the moves as “nothing less than a quiet revolution”, given the cultural and social significance of meat in Germany.
Whatever comes of the decision in terms of lasting impact and influence, it has already provoked discussions and awareness as to the environmental consequences of a meat-rich diet.
The question here is what strategies prove effective in delivering long-term behaviour change. While leading by example is important, education and tools to support informed choices may have a more lasting impact.