Agricultural College Shuts Down Veganuary Initiative After Pressure From Farmers

The college apologized after farmers criticized its promotion of Veganuary


3 Minutes Read

Cows trapped on a farm in England, where livestock farmers have provoked a college to block a student Veganuary initiative Farmers have provoked a college to block a student Veganuary initiative - Media Credit: Adobe Stock

An agricultural college that encouraged students to eat meat free two days a week has backtracked under pressure from meat industry representatives and blocked the student-led initiative.

On Monday, Bishop Burton College posted on Facebook that it would trial two meat-free days at an on-site café (the post has since been deleted). As part of Veganuary, the college said it would trial “meat-free Mondays” and “wellbeing Wednesdays.” It said this was to “promote a healthy diet contributing to good mental health as well as sustainability”.

Farmers and meat industry representatives reacted angrily to the post. A day later, the college’s principal, Bill Meredith, apologized to the “wider farming community” for the “impression” the post gave.

Bishop Burton College is a further education college in East Yorkshire with a focus on courses relating to farming.

Students want to move towards plant-based catering

The initiative would have involved serving students plant-based meals two days a week. This modest shift towards plant-based catering would have had beneficial environmental impacts. It could also have helped promote healthy eating among the college’s students and staff.

From heart health to kidney disease, plant-based diets have been associated with better health outcomes in many key areas. A recent study of twins, which became a Netflix series, revealed the astonishing health improvements that are possible in just eight weeks of eating a plant-based diet.

“Taking part in Veganuary and choosing a healthy plant-based diet could improve your health by reducing your cholesterol, your blood pressure and your risk of type 2 diabetes, as well as improving your digestion,” Dr Gemma Newman recently told Plant Based News.

Conner Peters, a Wildlife and Conservation Management Student and Plant-Based Universities campaigner at Bishop Burton, said in a statement: “As a student at the college, I think Bishop Burton’s Veganuary catering trial gives students the opportunity to try first-hand the kinds of healthy, delicious and affordable meat-free dishes on offer.”

“A climate crisis heavily linked to animal farming”

Bishop Burton College, where students had wanted to take part in a Veganuary trial
Mark Sunderland Photography / Alamy Stock Photo Students at the college had wanted to take part in a Veganuary trial

After Bishop Burton students and staff planned the meat-free trial, outsiders got involved to stop it. “The backlash against the initiative on Facebook and Twitter, which was mostly from people not studying or teaching at Bishop Burton, was disappointing but not surprising,” Peters said.

He added: “Farmers across the country have suffered in recent weeks following flooding, undeniably linked to the climate crisis. This is a climate crisis heavily linked to animal farming and fishing.”

To try to help bring about a sustainable transformation of British farming, activist group Animal Rising has launched a new project – Vegans Support the Farmers – to create an “allyship” between vegans and farmers.

The aims of the initiative are threefold. They include a fair price for farmers from retailers, a government boost for home-grown produce, and to make farmers’ voices heard in policymaking.

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