"My view is that if people won’t go to a garden, garden centre or flower show because they can’t go without eating animals for one meal then those gardens, garden centres or flower shows aren’t interesting enough."
The RHS has a new sustainability manifesto that had no mention of ethical and environmental food, although it has dozens of food outlets at its gardens. West said: "No mention of going plant-based in the document…a massive oversight. I’ve sent letters so I know they are aware of it. Very disappointing."
RHS director of science and collections Professor Alistair Griffiths said in response to HortWeek's story: “We agree that a shift to a plant-based diet will help reverse the climate and biodiversity crisis and this is why our RHS Sustainability Strategy includes an action ‘to eat more home-grown fruit and vegetables.’ We have also significantly increased plant-based offerings in our cafes and restaurants at all RHS Shows and Gardens.
“However we say in our strategy that we welcome all constructive challenges to improve it and any ideas that will help achieve our ambitious goals. So following the comments made by Cleve West and for more clarity we are adding two further commitments to our targets of becoming ‘Climate Positive by 2030’ and ‘Biodiversity Positive by 2025.’ We hope this will reaffirm our plans to reduce animal products and increase plant-based offerings in the food and drink that we serve.
“We will also expand on the messaging around the existing action to promote going ‘plant based’ and eating only ‘ethically sourced’ fruit and vegetables. We appreciate all feedback and will continue to work with others to refine and strengthen our strategy.”
Additional ‘commitments’ under ‘Net Positive for Nature’;
-Nature target 1 - Climate Positive by 2030
Our Commitment: We will further develop an ethical plant-based food and drink offer and reduce animal products use to minimise the climate impacts of the food we serve.
-Nature Target 2 – Biodiversity Positive by 2025
Our Commitment: We will further develop an ethical plant-based food and drink offer and reduce animal products use to minimise the biodiversity impacts of the food we serve.
Forest Green Rovers owner Dale Vince tweeted: "Very impressed by the work of Cleve West and Hortweek in encouraging some positive action and change from RHS."
Cleve West said the policy change was "better than winning best in show at Chelsea".
He added: "Gone from feeling grumpy about my Instagram post about the horticultural industry going plant-based being deleted to seeing this…Many thanks Matt Appleby and his team at Horticulture Week for highlighting this important issue and well done RHS for acknowledging that a shift to a plant based diet can help offset the climate and biodiversity crisis.