A vegan councillor has backed meat retailers in the city.

Ben Duncan, the chairman of the licensing committee at Brighton and Hove Council, said that eating meat is akin to racism and homophobia.

In a letter to The Argus, he said that the next form of discrimination to be tackled will be speciesism.

But he ruled out any attempt to block farmers’ markets and other meat-sellers from operating in the city.

The council is in talks with the organiser of Brighton and Hove Food Festival over plans to launch a monthly farmers’ market near the site of the war memorial in Old Steine.

Coun Duncan said: “Farmers’ markets have a key role to play locally and we should embrace them. I am a vegan and I hope one day that all people will be but I do not want to tell people where they should shop. “That is not within my remit. It is not a priority to rule out farmers’ markets.”

Nick Mosely, the director of Brighton and Hove Food and Drink Festival, said he welcomed the fact that Coun Duncan’s veganism would not affect his decisions as chairman of the licensing committee. He said: “The food festival team have been working closely with administration councillors and officers to deliver a much-needed, major monthly, city centre farmers’ market to complement the weekly farmers’ market at Churchill Square.

“We very much value their ongoing efforts and commitment to see this initiative happen.

“All of our stallholders will be small growers and producers from the city and surrounding Sussex, bringing good quality and reasonably priced food and drink with provenance to the people of Brighton and Hove.”

Lee Anne Chapman, the Vegan Society representative in Brighton and Hove, said that she would like to see meat-free farmers’ markets encouraged. She said: “You can’t change people’s minds through force. But if farmers’ markets were from smaller farms that did not use intensive methods, that would be a step forward.”