Chiara Appendino is about to become a household name—at least to vegans and vegetarians across the globe. The 31-year-old new mayor of Turin, the industrial northern Italy capital of Piedmont, says she’s making the vegan diet a priority for the city.
Italy is known for its love of all kinds of animal-based foods—meats, sausages, and fish are staples, and of course, there’s cheese, practically synonymous with the European nation. But a diet heavy on animal products is an antiquated habit not doing future Italians any favors, according to Appendino, a vegetarian herself.
A member of the populist Five Star Movement (M5S), Appendino highlights the shift away from animal-based foods as critical in the efforts to mitigate climate change, human disease, and the unnecessary suffering of animals. If there is indeed to be a future for Italy (and the rest of the planet), decreasing our global reliance on animal-derived ingredients is a weighty consideration.
Appendino’s administration presented the program last week, citing the promotion of vegan and vegetarian diets as “a fundamental act in safeguarding our environment, the health of our citizens and the welfare of our animals.” The program points to experts in medicine, nutrition, and politics all poised to aid in the promotion. And while the city hasn’t yet revealed its full plans for promoting vegan and vegetarian diets, the Guardian reports it’s likely to include “educational projects in schools to teach students about animal welfare and nutrition.”
As expected, the move is not without its critics— Appendino was attacked on Twitter (one Tweet read: “If you disobey [the mayor’s agenda] in Turin you’ll go to bed without dinner”).
“The move is unprecedented in Italian municipal government,” reports the Guardian, “but is in keeping with the views of the eurosceptic M5S. The party espouses some progressive values, such as environmentalism, conservation and green energy.”
While Appendino may be stirring up the (meatless) pot in Italy, there are other major shifts away from animal products happening all across the globe. Here in the U.S. schools in several major cities have begun serving only vegan fare to students. And at a recent conference, a Google executive pointed to meatless “meat” products as the biggest trend in the tech industry.