The Real Reason Meat Advertisements Are Now Banned In A Dutch City

Folks have all sorts of opinions about vegetarianism, and all sorts of reasons for following (or rejecting) a vegetarian diet. Anthony Bourdain once famously said, "vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit." In his opus "Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly," Bourdain writes, "To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living," (via GoodReads). On the flip side, celebrity vegetarian cookbook author Linda McCartney once wrote, "If slaughterhouses had glass walls, the whole world would be vegetarian."

Whichever side of the spectrum you happen to fall on (or, if you fall someplace in the middle), meat production has been linked to climate change due to the large amount of greenhouse gas emissions it produces. A 2021 study by the University of Illinois found that global meat production generates more than twice as many greenhouse gas emissions as the production of plant-based proteins (via Nature). That's why, in September 2022, the Dutch city of Haarlem officially approved a ban on meat advertisements, per Insider. The ban was initially proposed last year by GroenLinks, an environmentally-conscious political organization. Per the rule, bus stops, commercial screens, and all other public spaces will be meat-ad-free by 2024. Here's what people are saying about it.

Climate-conscious censorship?

Not everybody is stoked about the ban — some are calling it a limitation on freedom of speech. But, Ziggy Klazes, Haarlem GroenLinks councilor, says the advertisement restriction is an essential step in the right direction for real change. "Meat is just as harmful to the environment [as fossil fuels]," says Klazes, via Insider. "We can't tell people there's a climate crisis and encourage them to buy products that are part of the cause."

The Netherlands has emerged as something of a pioneer in the contemporary climate crisis as it relates to food emissions. In 2019, Amsterdam banned all gasoline and diesel-fueled vehicles by 2030, via Reuters. Dutch traffic councilor Sharon Dijksma commented, "Pollution often is a silent killer and is one of the greatest health hazards in Amsterdam."

In May 2021, Amsterdam banned ads for flights and diesel cars (both of which promote the use of fossil fuels) from all public metro stations' electronic advertising boards. Marieke van Doorninck, Amsterdam council's environment chief, maintained that "The need to counteract climate change should be seen in the street, and that means in advertising," via Netherlands outlet DutchNews. The move ignited a bigger motion: Just a few months later, in October 2021, over 20 environmental activist groups asked the European Union to follow Amsterdam's lead and ban fossil fuel ads on a much larger scale, "similar to bans on tobacco advertising," per AP News. Haarlem's latest action might be only the beginning of a much larger movement.