EDINBURGH is to become the first "vegan capital" in Europe to tackle the climate crisis, joining cities such as Los Angeles.

Councillors have endorsed the Plant Based Treaty, which aims to promote a shift to healthier, sustainable diets based on less consumption of meat and dairy products.

The capital is the first Scottish city to sign up to the initiative, which has been backed by 20 cities around the world and celebrities, scientists and politicians.

Green Councillor Steve Burgess introduced the Plant Based Treaty to a council meeting in March last year, where it was agreed to create an impact assessment on the implications of the treaty.

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The report, which was presented at the council's policy and sustainability committee on Tuesday, found food and diet account for 23% of Edinburgh’s consumption-based footprint, with just under half - 12% - of these emissions from the consumption of meat.

It states that “a shift to plant-based diets would therefore significantly reduce the city’s consumption-based emissions".

Burgess said: “Edinburgh council itself now also has a fantastic opportunity to encourage far more plant-based eating and I look forward to the forthcoming council report on how we can do that.

“By declaring our endorsement, we are acknowledging that food systems are a main driver of the climate emergency and that a shift towards plant-based diets can go a huge way in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“Plant-rich diets are also a win-win-win for society: they have a lower environmental impact, significant health benefits, and reduce animal welfare impacts.”

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The council has also agreed to write to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to encourage the Scottish Government to follow suit in endorsing the treaty, which is inspired by agreements that have addressed the threats of ozone layer depletion and nuclear weapons.

Nicola Harris, communications director at Plant Based Treaty, said: “Edinburgh has lived up to its reputation as a global climate leader by acknowledging the critical need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the food system to achieve our climate targets.

“Promoting plant-based food across Edinburgh will help residents make informed choices that are better for the planet, personal health and animal protection.”

However the move was criticised by rural campaign organisation the Scottish Countryside Alliance. 

Director Jake Swindells said: "It is disappointing to see a city council complicit in pandering to misinformation about livestock farming in Britain, which is among the most sustainable in the world.

"The UK climate is ideal for growing grass for animals to eat. Around 65% of farmland in the UK is best suited to growing grass rather than other crops. If we did not graze livestock on it, we could not use it to produce food."

He added: “Knowing where your food comes from and how it is produced is far more important than whether it is animal or vegetable.

"The city council should opt instead for engaging with local farmers about the work they are doing to produce sustainable food, while doing their part to protect and enhance our countryside.

"As it stands, they are open to the accusation of being an anti-farming authority”.