THE mayor of Worcester has called the row over a meat ban at his receptions 'ham sandwich gate' and said the city has far more important issues on the political menu to digest.

Councillor Louis Stephen, the Green mayor of Worcester, stirred up controversy when he decided to offer vegetarian and vegan-only food options at his reception at the Mayor's Parlour at Worcester Guildhall.

Worcester News: STANCE: Louis Stephen, the mayor of Worcester, called the row over meat free receptions 'ham sandwich gate' STANCE: Louis Stephen, the mayor of Worcester, called the row over meat free receptions 'ham sandwich gate' (Image: Worcester City Council)

The Battenhall councillor came under fire from a former mayor of Worcester, Alan Amos, who argued that it was discrimination against meat eaters. 

Cllr Stephen, the city's first Green mayor, said: "In my opinion 'ham sandwich gate' an issue that affects a few councillors and a handful of guests six times per year should probably not be the main thing we are talking about two days after the council has just set the budget and agreed their four year spend plan."

Cllr Stephen added: "Some of the points raised saying that both meat and plant-based foods should be provided miss the point about inclusivity.

"Muslims don't eat non-halal meat, Jewish people don't eat non-kosher food, Hindu's don't eat beef, lactose intolerant people can't eat cheese.

"In order to be inclusive for everyone should I have ordered in a special order of halal, kosher foods? The fact is that everyone eats vegetables and carbohydrates - this way everyone can eat everything on the table - that is truly inclusive.

RECOMMENDED READING: Worcester mayor says 'no meat' allowed at his receptions

RECOMMENDED READING: Two house fires with people trapped inside in Worcester

"I agree farmers need support - lots of farmers work very long hours for low pay and many farms are going bust.

"Post-Brexit this government has delayed and delayed their replacement of funding mechanisms that once came from Europe - this dithering and delay is really damaging the farming industry.

"Worcestershire has some really fantastic horticulture in places like the vale of Evesham - eating a more healthy diet can only help them surely?

"Perhaps the biggest issue is that growing crops to feed to animals that we then eat is very inefficient when compared to eating vegetable protein directly - in the case of beef something like a 100kg of vegetable animal feed to produce 1kg of beef.

"Many of our farms have become wildlife desserts. Eating plant-based foods is more efficient if we all did the pressure on land use would reduce and we'd all benefit from a far great biodiversity from land that is farmed less intensively."