The German environment minister says it’s better for the environment, but other politicians are calling the decision an infringement of the right to freedom of choice.
In the run-up to election time, a politician's every move is scrutinised—even food choices come to symbolise character and a predictor of things to come. After all, Donald Trump's obsession with "clean" fast food on the campaign trail makes sense now Big Ag looks set to dominate US food policy. And we all know about that bacon sandwich pic that ended Ed Miliband's dreams of being Prime Minister.
With German elections for Chancellor just a few months away, food has become political once again. This time, vegetarian food is at the centre of a row over a citizen's right to freedom of choice.
The row within the current German coalition government, which is formed of the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Christian Democrats (CDU), began earlier this week when Environment Minister and SDP member Barbara Hendricks announced that meat and fish would be banned from official government functions. Citing the environmental burden that intensive meat production places on the planet, Hendricks issued a statement saying that only vegetarian food will now be served at events.
Unsurprisingly in a country basically built on currywurst and schnitzel, the change in catering policy didn't go down too well.
In fact, politicians from the CDU went so far as to claim that the ban on meat is evidence that the Social Democrats will interfere in the private lives of citizens, should they take power. The Daily Telegraph reports current German Food Minister Christian Schmidt as saying: "I'm not having this Veggie Day through the back door. I believe in diversity and freedom of choice, not nanny-statism and ideology."
A statement from Germany's Environment Ministry defended the move to make official events veggie and said that it was not an attempt to preach to the people: "We want to set a good example for climate protection, because vegetarian food is more climate-friendly than meat and fish."
But the CDU hit back, accusing Hendricks and the SDU of hypocrisy when it emerged that meat and fish will continue to be served in government staff canteens.
It's not the first time German politicians have taken issue with the meat-free lifestyle. Earlier this year, the aforementioned food minister Schmidt said he wanted to ban vegan sausages because the pseudo-meat name was confusing for consumers.
Let's be honest, though guys. There are probably more pressing issues to debate along the campaign trail than whether your risotto comes with pancetta or mushrooms.