Blackburn with Darwen Council has been accused of failing to provide for its vegan residents when catering for public events.

It is one of 54 local authorities rated 'Red' in a nationwide survey of municipal catering, and stands accused of leaving those following a plant-based diet excluded.

Current estimates believe there are about 1.4 million vegans in the UK, around 1.5 per cent of the country's population.

The Vegan Society sent Freedom of Information requests to 209 councils in across the UK asking whether they took into account that veganism is a protected characteristic in food provision; whether they served vegan options as standard in its onsite catering and procurement contracts; and whether they had meat and dairy reduction plans.

Vegans do not eat any food product that is derived from animals or subjects animals to what they deem cruel treatment, including items such as meat, eggs, seafood, and honey.

The society is calling for a guaranteed plant-based option on all public sector menus to meet health and environmental goals.

Blackburn with Darwen Council is among 54 local authorities the survey categorised as 'red' for not taking steps to be inclusive of veganism or to address meat and dairy consumption to meet climate targets.

Lancashire County Council is rated 'amber' which means it has taken only limited steps to be inclusive of veganism and to address meat and dairy consumption.

In the UK, veganism is recognised as a protected belief and councils have a legal responsibility to provide adequate options for those who live a vegan lifestyle.

The government's National Food Strategy recommends local authorities promote sustainable diets to reduce emissions in response to the climate crisis.

Animal agriculture is one of the largest polluting industries in the world, with some studies finding the worldwide cattle industry produces more emissions than every vehicle on the planet combined.

The Vegan Society is urging councils ranked as “Red” in the report to reassess their vegan catering provisions.

Claire Ogley, head of campaigns at The Vegan Society, said: “Our new report reveals which areas are excelling and which are falling behind.

"It’s fantastic to see some councils – such as Oxfordshire and Edinburgh – leading the way.

"However, for many local authorities – including Blackburn with Darwen – there is still a long way to go.

"We hope our report will be a useful tool to help people to hold their local areas to account and push for more sustainable options.

"Ensuring that all public sector menus provide a 100 per cent plant-based option every day is a crucial step towards vegan-inclusion and to encourage the transition to a more sustainable and healthier food system for everyone.”

A Blackburn with Darwen Council spokesperson said the authority did not provide onsite catering and food for events in its buildings, and catering for school, leisure and community centres was sourced from outside contractors.