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Helsinki eyes meat-free official events

Finland’s capital city says it will no longer serve meat dishes at seminars, staff meetings, receptions and other events to reduce Helsinki’s emissions footprint.

Instead, the city government plans to offer vegetarian food and sustainable local fish.

Liisa Kivela, Helsinki’s communications director, told the Associated Press on Thursday that the change takes effect in January and excludes school and workplace cafeterias run by the city of about 650,000 residents.

Kivisto said the the policy adopted by the City Council also allows deviations for certain “high-level visits or similar events” organised by Helsinki Mayor Juhana Vartiainen or the city’s senior managers.

The policy also stipulates that coffee, tea, oat milk and items like bananas offered at events will have to be sourced from fair trade producers.

In addition, snacks and refreshments no longer can be served in single-use containers.

The local government said in a statement that the measure is part of a broader effort “which aims to reduce the climate impact of food and reduce the amount of natural resources used by the city”.

The mayor, who assumed Helsinki’s top post in August, said he was glad the city retains the option of serving meat on some occasions.

“For example, should the king of Sweden arrive for a visit, then domestic game can be offered. Or some group for whom it would be natural to offer meat, then there must be discretion and common sense,” Vartiainen told the Finnish newspaper Iltalehti.

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