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What Is The Plant-Based Treaty And Why Does It Matter?

A blog by Laura Buchenlicht

a community garden with several people engaged in looking after the plants, including a white man in a wheelchair with an amputated arm and leg protheses, a black girl, a white girl, and more people

I have to admit it – I’m not a big fan of signing petitions, especially those found on sites like All too often the screaming capitalism of the website is so loud that it puts me off, and the final bombardment with “These campaigns also need your help!” makes sure that I remain a very infrequent visitor.

So I was positively surprised to find just how peaceful it was to sign the plant-based treaty.

What is the plant-based treaty? It’s a call to action that demands the change of our current food system in order to combat climate change.

Through this, it fills the current gap of governmental climate crisis management, which typically likes to forget about the fact that animal agriculture is one of the leading causes of climate change and the biodiversity crisis.

The treaty contains 39 demands, which are grouped into three sections:

1. Relinquish:

These demands are all about stopping to expand and continue animal agriculture, for example by deforestation for animal feed/grazing, growing farms, building new slaughter houses, animal transports, or building new large-scale fishing vessels.

2. Redirect:

Instead of investing in and promoting animal agriculture, we should support and create more plant-based food systems. This includes declaring a climate emergency (only 34 countries have already done so), shifting towards veganic (vegan and organic) farming, including the training and financial support of farmers and fishers to make that shift; transitioning to plant-based meals in schools, hospitals, nursing homes, prisons and government institutions; school education covering the harms of animal food, and introducing a meat (including fish) tax.

3. Restore:

This section is all about healing as much past harm as possible. That would include reforestation, re-planting carbon-absorbing plants in the oceans, such as seagrass; keeping and introducing more Marine Protected Areas, in which no fishing is allowed at all; increasing projects that make cities greener, and tackling food injustice by making sure healthy food is accessible to everyone, especially for low-income communities of colour.

So as you can see, the treaty addresses all the root causes of climate change that stem from animal agriculture, and keeps in mind all the ways in which different groups are affected (ecosystems, animals, and different social human groups).

The treaty was created in April 2021, when Anita Krajnc (the co-founder of the Toronto Pig Save), Genelle Palacio-Butler (who turned vegan for her child-activist daughter Genesis Butler), and Nicola Harris (who co-ordinates the website and the campaign’s communications) met with Tzeporah Berman (one of the organisers of the logging blockade in Clayoquot Sound, B.C. in 1992/1993).

The four women thought about how to put the problem of animal agriculture into the main focus of action against climate change. They ended up deciding that the best way to do so, was by targeting laws and systems, effectively showing governments the way out of animal agriculture.

So far, 26 cities from six countries have signed the treaty. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it includes the megacities Los Angeles and Edinburgh. And on January 30th 2024, Amsterdam has joined as the first EU-city and a national capital to sign the Plant-Based Treaty.

The great thing is, though, that you can also endorse the treaty as an individual, organisation, or business (so far 139.550 individuals have signed). But if you want to do more than that, there certainly are more possibilities to take action:

You can, of course, join the campaign as a volunteer, and start to promote it in your local area. Chances are that there’s already a team present.

But if that’s not your thing or not possible for you, you can also send a letter-template to your local council, asking the representative politicians to endorse the treaty – all easily done through the website (I just did that for my locality in Germany).

Other options include donating, following them on social media, shopping their merchandise, or downloading a media pack, so that you can proudly display your support with a badge on your website or social media, for example. It looks like this:

a green badge with the slogan "I endorse the Plant-Based Treaty"

I was a bit surprised to find that the list of celebrities who endorsed the treaty so far, is quite short. It includes the usual suspects like Moby, Rooney Mara, Joaquin Phoenix, and the McCartney family, but where are all of the other vegan stars?

It seems to me like the treaty could definitely use some more exposure (can you tell I’m really excited about this).

Hopefully this blog will have inspired you to join as fan of the Plant-Based Treaty and spread the word. As Genesis Butler rightly put it:

“We will never heal the plant and solve the climate crisis if we don’t address animal agriculture.”

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