Cauliflower Chickpea Patties. Zucchini & Tomato Lasagna. Crispy Tofu Nuggets. What could make these vegan entrees any less appetizing? A city ordinance that says all movie theatres and sports venues are legally required to serve gag-worthy Vegan dishes like these, whether patrons want them or not.
Why? Because the city is Los Angeles, the agenda is fighting climate change, and the city council member who proposes this ordinance thinks there is a cause-and-effect relationship between your Dodger Dog and California wildfires. His name is Paul Koretz, and you can watch his press conference where he introduces this less than constitutional ordinance here.
If you don’t want to watch his 15 minutes of droning, here’s the meat of the story. Pun intended. Koretz cites studies that paint the meat and dairy industries as serious polluters, including a University of Oxford study that claims if more people in the United States adopted plant-based eating it could cut greenhouse-gas emissions from food sources by 70 percent. From greenhouse gases, it’s a short ideological hop to climate change and late-season firestorms.
Maybe legal on public property, but on private property?
There’s a public and a private side to this proposal: The public side asks city departments to report on ways to make sure at least one vegan protein option is available at all concessionaire locations at city-operated venues, including parks, the Los Angeles Zoo, and Meals on Wheels programs. L.A. World Airports, which operates LAX, would also be required to study the feasibility of putting a vegan restaurant in every terminal, and of having all other restaurants in the airport offer at least one vegan protein entree.
Arguably, the public side of the proposal is constitutional, but the other part is over the line. When it comes to large-scale venues, no city funds were used to build the Staples Center. The city has no ownership of the LA Coliseum either, which is now the United Airlines Memorial Coliseum. And what about every movie theatre in town? They’re privately owned, too. So what gives council member Koretz the right to tell private businesses how to conduct their business?
Fresh loony ideas, imported from Northern California.
Maybe he follows the news from Mountain View, 400 miles to the north. Their city council doesn’t try to control what people can eat, but where they can. In a 2014 agreement with facebook, Mountain View told Facebook that it could no longer serve its 2000 employees a free lunch in the cafeteria, because that perk had an adverse effect on the city’s restaurants. The restriction said facebook could only pay for 50% of each cafeteria meal, but was free to give workers a 100% voucher for off-campus restaurants. Soon after, San Francisco followed along, when Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Ahsha Safai introduced a resolution that would prevent any new tech companies to have an employee cafeteria in their offices.
The legislation was introduced in July, but fortunately, is still tied up between the Planning Commission and the Land Use Committee. Peskin said the ordinance was designed to avoid the “Amazon effect that impacts retail and restaurants across the county” This is forward thinking legislation,” he said. “People will have to go out and eat lunch with the rest of us,” he added. Maybe this is one reason why San Francisco didn’t even place on Amazon’s not-so-short list of 20 companies for their second headquarters. Or maybe it’s the fact that few people enjoy going to lunch in San Francisco when the SnapCrap app says there’s a probability of coming back with dogpoo on their shoes.
That brings us back full circle to the subject of mandated vegan entrees, which many find equally unappetizing. But council member Koretz is not worried about pushback to his proposal. He actually thinks his new ordinance will help them. “In a group, the person that’s vegan decides where the whole group ends up eating,” Koretz says. “So a lot of restaurants are leaving money on the table by not offering some vegan options.”
Clearly, Mr. Koretz has not spent much time in the restaurant business, and neither have I. But I’ll wager that even more money will be left on the table because of the mandatory cauliflower, chickpea, and tofu entrees that wind up in the dumpster every night.