Why isn't RHS Chelsea Flower Show plant-based? asks top garden designer

"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."

Cleve West
Cleve West

RHS Chelsea Flower Show best in show garden designer Cleve West has demanded that the RHS take into account veganism when staging Chelsea Flower Show, which starts next week (20-26 September).

West posted on Instagram: "With mounting evidence of a clear link between animal agriculture and a range of  environmental problems (climate change, deforestation, biodiversity loss, species  extinction, to name a few) companies, organisations and educational establishments are looking to go plant-based to reduce their environmental impact.

"Forest Green Rovers FC are 100% plant-based, Google are offering far less meat to their employees and students in Germany, concerned about the predicted effects of climate change, are asking their Universities to go meat-free.

"Now, if students and a football club understand that challenges that lie ahead and recognise the power of plants, surely gardeners can too?

"With the grim environmental forecasts, not to mention the health-related illnesses caused by the consumption of animals and their secretions, the horticultural industry should be at the vanguard of the plant-based movement simply because plants can help us mitigate so many of the problems that threaten the very survival of life on Earth.

"In The Garden of Vegan [West's recent book], I suggested that Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and the Royal Horticultural Society should serve plant-based food only at their establishments and events to help raise awareness of the power of plants. I’ve since concluded that the horticultural industry as a whole should embrace this movement especially garden centres which, arguably have the largest footfall in terms of passing trade.

"Obviously some will worry that such a move would affect visitor numbers or memberships but Dale Vince, Forest Green Rovers’ visionary owner, will tell you that food sales have actually increased since the club went plant-based.

"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.

"So, how about it? Let’s lead the way with this important initiative and…"

West asked Society of Garden Designers, RHS, Landscape Institute, Kew, BALI, HTA, BGA and GCA for support.

Meanwhile, the RHS has a new sustainability manifesto, that has 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."

Dale Vince's technical expert Will Guyatt replied on Twitter: "Hey @clevewest - we already love you!"


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