In the words of the inimitable Homer Simpson, “you don’t win friends with salad.” Apparently, that old adage even applies to the German government. According to the Telegraph, members of German chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat party have been on the offensive recently, going after environment minister Barbara Hendricks and her Social Democrat party after Hendricks decided to ax meat from all official government functions, citing the environmental benefits of a vegetarian diet.
“I’m not having this Veggie Day through the back door,” said Christian Schmidt, the German food minister and a member of the Christian Democrats, accusing the Social Democrats of trying to impose their will on the German people. “I believe in diversity and freedom of choice, not nanny-statism and ideology... Meat and fish are also part of a balanced diet.”
Though offering up a meat-free menu might not sounds like the most controversial topic, tempers are reportedly not just flaring because of a lack of protein: With German elections a month away, the Social Democrats have been surging in the polls, potentially foreshadowing a win that could upend the government’s current leadership. Apparently, Christian Democrats have decided meat eaters are a voting block the party is happy to appeal to.
“[Social Democrats] won’t save the climate by branding people who eat meat, and they know this,” said Gitta Conneman, a member of parliament and Christian Democrat. She also stressed that though the ban applied to official functions, meat was still served at government cafeterias. “The ban only applies to a handful of guests, not to 1,200 employees. This is pure ideology, a ‘people’s education’ for the diet.” Somewhere a government employee probably just spit out his bratwurst thinking, Don’t drag us into this!
Despite the controversy, however, the environment ministry apparently stood by its decision, playing down the nanny-state accusations. “We’re not telling anyone what they should eat,” the ministry reportedly said in a statement. “But we want to set a good example for climate protection, because vegetarian food is more climate-friendly than meat and fish.”
Okay, but more important question: Are they still serving giant two-liter steins of beer? Or am I getting official German government functions mixed up with Oktoberfest?