Civic elections are coming up in my city, and this got me wondering...

If the electorate decided to elect a mayor and council where a majority wanted to use their powers as elected officials to support the movement away from animal-based food products (pro-vegan platform), what would they actually be able to do? I live in British Columbia, Canada.

Obviously the mayor and council wouldn't be able to make an entire city of people go vegan. What powers do they have in terms of taxation, zoning, legislation, and other municipal measures that could make a difference? I am particularly interested in the angle of changing food availability to support action on climate change.

I was originally going to ask on Vegetarianism.SE but this site seems like a better fit.

  • One of the candidates running to be mayor of Toronto is vegan, and here is his platform mikemoreyears.com/animal-welfare (this might help inspire better answers)
    – Nic
    Oct 16, 2018 at 15:10

3 Answers 3


Municipalities in British Columbia are regulated through the Local Government Act of British Columbia and the Community Charter (and Vancouver has its own thing that applies only to it, but let's avoid that.)

The Fundamental Powers section of the Community Charter might be a good place to start, as this brief fragment might demonstrate:

8.3 A council may, by bylaw, regulate, prohibit and impose requirements in relation to the following:

(i) public health;

(j) protection of the natural environment;

(k) animals;

Extant bylaws that might offer some inspiration include Victoria's Idling Control Bylaw (4 pages) (its preamble: "The purpose of this Bylaw is to protect public health and the environment through regulation...") and also New Westminster's Shark Fin Regulation Bylaw (just 1 page!) which has a similarly-useful preamble and also contains this punishment:

Every person or business entity who contravenes the provisions of this Bylaw commits an offence and is liable, upon summary conviction, to a fine of not more than $10,000.00. A separate offence shall be deemed to be committed upon each day during and in which any contravention of this Bylaw occurs or continues.

  • 3
    This is a nice start, but it would benefit from going just a little further. Are there federal laws that would overrule provincial or local laws related to meat consumption?
    – divibisan
    Oct 17, 2018 at 15:35

Encouraging meat-free days seems to be a common measure. This can be done both by making calls for voluntary action and by controlling menus in places where the government can control food (e.g. school meal standards, publicly-owned cafeterias and restaurants).

In 2021, the French government mandated that all state schools should offer one meat-free day per week. This would ensure that less meat was eaten in schools, done primarily for reasons of greenhouse gas emissions.

This matches other campaigns to promote "Meatless Monday" or "Meat Free Monday", suggesting that people shouldn't eat meat on Mondays. Woodrow Wilson issued a similar proclamation in World War One (due to the risk of food shortages due to war); it was tried again in World War Two, apparently with little success.

Since then various other administrations worldwide, such as the city of Ghent, have promoted similar policies, or mandated them in some institutions where government controlled catering (see previous link).

  • Not my DV, but meat-free is not quite vegetarian IIRC, although lacto-vegetarian, I suppose. (Or en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lacto-ovo_vegetarianism for the most nitpikcing.) The OP is asking about avoiding all "animal-based" food sources, so a little more hardcore than that, it seems. OTOH they later add that climate change is their motivation, in which case meat consumption indeed is considered a bigger factor than eggs or milk, IIRC. Apr 11 at 5:39

Mike Bloomberg almost banned soda in NYC (well, large containers, at least). In theory, they can ban sale of almost any food, although ordering online interstate in USA can't be banned for constitutional reasons... not sure about Canada.

Plus, they can levy almost astronomical tax (think cigarette taxes in NYC again) to discourage demand.

Plus, they can hire health commissioner that can find some articles about how animal products are unhealthy, and ban their use on health grounds (I mean, entire US anti-MJ policy seems to be based on far flimsier scientific evidence).

  • 3
    Well, that answers the question. So what on earth is MJ. pot.?
    – gnasher729
    Oct 14, 2018 at 21:38
  • 15
    This answer seems to be based entirely on what an US mayor can do and assuming that the same applies to a Canadian mayor. It might be better to answer this question from a more Canadian perspective.
    – Philipp
    Oct 15, 2018 at 8:22
  • 8
    "NYC almost banned soda" is not a very accurate description of the proposed law. More accurate would be "ban gigantic soda portions being sold in restaurants". For comparison, I think you'll be hard-pressed to find soda portions larger than half a litre in most of Europe at all, simply because there is no demand for it. Soda isn't "banned" there. Regardless what you think of the law, this is not an accurate description.
    – user11249
    Oct 15, 2018 at 10:56
  • 6
    And the suggestion that a vegan ruler-ship will "use entire city budget on vegan propaganda" instead of "pothole fixing and sanitation" is frankly just ranting and border-line insulting.
    – user11249
    Oct 15, 2018 at 10:57
  • 4
    @MartinTournoij - you are deliberately misinterpreting my answer, as usual. I wasn't "ranting" - I was suggesting possible practical options that I would consider as a Mayor. Somehow I doubt you'd be very critical if I answered 100% same thing but the Mayor's goals aligned with your political bias.
    – user4012
    Oct 15, 2018 at 11:55

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