German ministry under fire for meat-free buffets

Berlin, Feb 25 (IANS) Politicians stormed out of a buffet at a German government symposium on “exporting green technology” in Berlin this month when meat was not served, a media report said on Saturday.

Instead of the salami rolls, cocktail sausages or goulash soups (soup or stew of meat and vegetables, seasoned with spices) one would ordinarily expect at similar functions in the German capital, the lunchtime menu offered Belgian endives with caramelised apple, celery escalope with honeyed carrots and a soya vegetable lasagne, the Guardian reported.

The vegetarian spread was the first manifestation of the German Environment Ministry’s decision this month to became the first government agency to take meat and fish off the menu at official functions, citing a need to lead by example when it comes to environmentally sustainable consumption and the “consequences of consuming meat”.

“We decided to take the symbolic step to ban meat and fish at external events because we want to practice what we preach,” ministry spokesperson Michael Schroeren told the Guardian.

“For us it was a matter of credibility”.

With a general election in September, some politicians decided to interpret the initiative as a coup against carnivores, a politicised attempt to introduce a vegetarian state by force.

Christian Schmidt, Germany’s food minister and a member of the Christian Social Union (CSU), immediately slammed Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks.

He said: “With us there won’t be a veggie day through the back door. Instead of paternalism and ideology I stand for variety and freedom of choice.”

Before the last German elections in 2013, during a campaign in which parties struggled to set themselves apart on weightier political issues, the Green party had proposed a weekly “veggie day” on which canteens across the country would not be serving meat – a policy proposal that backfired and was blamed by many for the party gaining only 8.5 per cent at the election.