Last week was another victory for environmentalist and animal advocates in California. Two bills passed their first committee votes. AB 479 (Nazarian), which will make it easier for schools to provide plant-based lunch options for students, and AB 572 (Kalra), which bars California from doing business with companies that do not have responsible “No Deforestation” policies in place. AB 479 passed its committee vote 5-0, while AB 572 passed 4-2.
“On the most pressing issues facing animals and our environment, our legislature is showing they understand what people want,” said Judie Mancuso, Founder and CEO of Social Compassion in Legislation. “More and more young Californians are choosing a plant-based diet, and consumers are making choices to protect our fragile ecosystems. Advancing these bills means our legislature shares our values.”
Under AB 572, California will only be able to do business with companies that work to treat tropical rainforests in a responsible and sustainable way. An estimated 18 million acres of tropical forest are lost every year due to human activities, and tropical deforestation is the third leading driver of climate change, accounting for as much as 14% of global CO2 emissions. This bill will help to create a level playing field so that the best companies, those which have already committed to eliminating deforestation from their supply chains, won’t face undue competition from those which, up to now, refuse to follow international best practices, human rights norms, and sustainable sourcing principles.
“I am grateful to my Assembly colleagues for overwhelmingly passing AB 572 through its first Committee. Surpassing this initial hurdle is the first big step towards having California ensure that those we contract with are responsible partners in protecting our tropical forests. I am thankful for the partnership with SocialCompassionin Legislation,Friends of the Earth, Peace 4 Animals and many others who stand together to protect our animals, indigenous communities and our planet,” said Assemblymember Kalra, the bill’s author.
“How can we help solve the enormous problem of deforestation,” asked Katie Cleary, Founder of Peace4Animals and World Animal News. “One way is by doing what California does best, by being a model for the rest of the country and the world. We are in a unique situation with our buying power. We can ensure that we only support companies that are good corporate citizens by requiring they have in place a “No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation” policy which this bill requires.”
Under AB 479, all public schools in California will have access to funds to provide vegan meals for their students who choose to live their lives without eating animals. The bill will not only provide funding for plant-based meals, but it will also offer support for staff training, student engagement, recipe development, and other technical assistance needed to boost participation rates.
“We’re passed the stage where our only school lunch options are meat and potatoes,” stated Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, the author of AB 479. “Plant-based meals are healthier for our children and will reduce our state’s carbon footprint.”
“Californians have compassion, and our laws should reflect that,” Mancuso added. “With the passage of these two bills, we got a step closer today.”
Next stop for both bills is the Assembly Appropriations Committee.