The rejection of meat-free Mondays by Brighton and Hove dustmen has prompted a tongue-in-cheek response from a campaigning animal charity.
PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) said that it wanted to pay for adverts on the side of dustcarts saying: “Go Green: Bin Meat.”
The cheeky advert featuring a “meaty Earth” is designed to get across the message that eating meat is bad for the planet, a spokesman for the charity said.
In a letter to Gillian Marston, the head of city infrastructure at Brighton and Hove City Council, PETA said: “With this ad, Brighton’s residents and binmen would get the message that the best way to help animals and keep the environment and their bodies healthy is to choose vegan sausage and faux-bacon butties and quit eating meat.
“The meat and dairy industries create monumental amounts of waste, and the United Nations has determined that raising animals for food is a leading cause of the world’s most pressing environmental problems, including land degradation, water shortages, water pollution and the loss of biodiversity.
“In addition to polluting the planet, the meat and dairy industries cause massive amounts of animal suffering.”
While the council might welcome revenue from advertising, the idea of such a targeted political message could leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth of Brighton and Hove’s binmen.
Mark Turner, of the GMB union, said that he didn’t think that PETA would be allowed to run the ads. He said: “I think it would go down really badly with the workforce.
“They tried meat-free Monday in the canteen in Hollingdean and it was deserted for the day. It was a spectacularly unsuccessful experiment.”
He added: “Up to now the council hasn’t allowed any advertising on the side of their vehicles except their own.
“If they did I’d be asking for the GMB to be allowed to advertise on their vehicles!”
Councillor Jason Kitcat, the council’s cabinet member responsible for finance and central services, said: “We would want to think long and hard about this. We don’t want antagonise people.”
Councillor Kitcat said: “We do want people to understand the costs of mass-produced cheap meat.
“We’d rather have a conversation with people than vilify them.
“Meat-free Monday encapsulates us wanting to have a conversation about these issues and there are many ways of doing this.
“We had a conversation when we consulted our staff at Cityclean. It wasn’t a popular option so we didn’t pursue it.
“We will continue to have conversations with staff and see whether there are other departments where we could introduce it.”
He said that there were other ways for people to reduce their consumption of mass-produced meat such as becoming part-time vegetarians.
He added: “We can offer more and better veggie options. There are places where the veggie option is a baked potato and cheese.
“It’s not about imposing a single solution.”