In strong efforts to reduce the carbon output across the city of New York, Mayor Adams has vowed to cut emissions stemming from food consumption and production–especially within the meat industry. According to a new report released by the city, about 20% of the city's greenhouse gasses are intertwined in the food industry, as well as building production at 34% and transportation at 22%. Taking a specific aim at the meat industry, Mayor Adams set a goal to reduce food-related emissions by 33% within the upcoming seven years. About 1 in every 5 metric tons of released emissions comes from the NYC food industry, and the majority of those ad hoc emissions lie within the meat and dairy sector.
“Food impacts everything. It impacts our physical health, our mental health, our way of life, and today we are saying to New Yorkers, and really to the globe, that it impacts our planet,” stated Adams at the city’s Health and Hospitals Culinary Center in Brooklyn.
Vastly, the growth and raising of cattle and livestock are responsible for causing about 14% of worldwide carbon emissions. This is due to the methane emitted off the cattle in flatulence, feces, and other bodily expelled gasses or fluids. The released methane contributes to climate change through the atmospheric absorption. It also contributes to water contamination through soil absorption and entrance into waterways, altering the fresh water sources surrounding that local area. Deforestation is another main factor into raising cattle, as there is a need for vast, barren land to settle upon. And usually once those lands are worn down, manufacturers travel to new forests and re-administer the destructive cycle–land is almost never reused.
Adams has transitioned over and now consumes an all plant-based diet. He believes that the city has not taken long enough strides into reducing its emissions. Since taking office, he has designed and enacted food policy plans that he believes will further his end goal. Some of his new regulations include–the city’s Health + Hospitals network implementing plant-based food options as the default for those facilities under that jurisdiction, so far they are on track to serve 850,000 vegan meals by 2030. Through the admins updated food standards, there has been a cap on the amount of meat that can be served per week, and a minimum of vegan options at regulated food establishments.
Adams also states he is challenging the city’s private sector's food-related emissions to reduce 25% by 2030–it is not clear yet whether he is allocating incentives or disincentives to achieve this goal. Those options are to be explored, according to his administration office. Climate Campaigns Director at the New York Communities for Change, Peter Sikora believes that Adam is taking necessary incremental steps but believes the policies and standards need to be more explicit in its approach in order to see significant results.
“What needs to happen here are requirements on the larger entities that the city can regulate and move. That’s the kind of politics and approach to social policy that the mayor seems really averse to because it requires him standing up to big corporations,” stated Sikora. One of these approaches he suggests is to have the city reallocate big business pension funds from those not taking an aggressive enough stance in reducing food-related emissions.
Adam’s administration team, and spokesperson Jonah Allon believe that the city is now leading by example, in relation to the choices of vegan options in public hospital menus and the introduction of ‘Meatless Mondays’ and ‘Plant-Powered Fridays’ into public schools. These creative implementations and new policies have the capacity to not only reduce the city’s carbon emissions, but increase the public's knowledge and likeness of plant-based foods.