Cambridge Student Union Vote Ousts Meat and Dairy From All Campus Menus

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The trend among young people to reduce their animal food consumption as a move to slow climate change came to a head at one of the world’s most esteemed universities. Cambridge’s campus is now vegan.

The student body at the University of Cambridge has voted overwhelmingly in favor of transitioning the campus menus to 100-percent vegan offerings, the university reports. The vote, which came down from the university’s student union, called for talks with the Cambridge catering services about removing all animal products from the campus cafes and canteens.

The move mirrors trends among young people, such as the “shame” over ordering dairy in public, according to a study published last year.

Cambridge goes vegan

The student body vote will bring changes to the campus, but it’s not a guarantee that Cambridge’s catering services will go all vegan elsewhere. But it does provide “an extremely strong mandate for colleges to begin transitioning to 100 percent plant-based menus,” the campaign noted.

Courtesy Canva

More than 70 percent of student representatives voted in favor of the motion after a four-week consultation process. The decision was influenced by The Plant-Based Universities campaign, a platform supported by the activist group Animal Rebellion. It has been lobbying for the menu shift as a way to address the climate and biodiversity crises. The U.K.-based campaign involves students at more than 40 institutions across the country urging their universities and student unions to shift to plant-based catering.

“The university catering services has already made important strides, for example in 2016 when it removed beef and lamb from all its menus. We look forward to working with them on the next necessary steps,” William Smith, a Cambridge supporter of the Plant-Based Universities campaign, told The Guardian. Smith says the shift away from meat could significantly reduce the esteemed university’s environmental impact as well as showcase its commitment to reducing its carbon footprint.

Universities embrace plant-based food

The move toward plant-based menus in universities is not new. According to a report by the Vegan Society, between 2016 and 2019, the number of universities that offered vegan food options increased by 46 percent. Additionally, research by the U.K.’s largest student accommodation provider, Unite Students, found that 57 percent of students surveyed wanted more vegan options in their campus canteens.

Courtesy Sander Dalhuisen via Unsplash

A number of universities have already made moves to increase their vegan options. In 2019, the University of Cambridge was named the U.K.’s most sustainable university in the Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings, partly due to its efforts to reduce meat consumption. The University of East Anglia, the University of Sheffield, and Goldsmiths, University of London have all announced plans to become more plant-based.

According to a University of Cambridge spokesperson, the university removed ruminant meat (beef and lamb) from the campus menus in 2016. The university also has a sustainable food policy in place that promotes plant-based options, including the removal of unsustainable fish and efforts to reduce food waste across the campus.

Lead image courtesy Chris Boland.


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