Students at the University of Stirling in Scotland, UK, have voted in favor of making their menus 100 percent plant-based.
The move will affect three food outlets owned by the student union. The students are aiming to make 50 percent of food vegan by the 2023-24 academic year, and 100 percent by 2025.
The motion was put forward by the Plant-Based Universities campaign. And the majority of attendees of a student union general meeting voted in favor of it.
The Plant-Based Universities campaign was started in 2021 by Animal Rebellion. The environmental and animal justice group is urging educational establishments to ditch meat due to the huge impact livestock farming has on our planet.
“The Plant-Based Universities campaign was set up as a direct reaction to UK universities deciding to ignore the research that they, all too often, provide on the impacts of animal farming and fishing on the environment,” Plant-Based Universities co-founder Nathan McGovern told Plant Based News (PBN).
“The premise is very simple: it’s about holding them accountable to their climate pledges and obligation to give students a liveable future.”
The move has been praised by environmentalist George Monbiot. He said in a statement: “It’s fantastic to see the next generation taking control of their future and putting humans, nonhuman animals and the planet first. The Plant-Based Universities campaigners at The University Of Stirling are leading the way in tackling the climate crisis and creating a sustainable food system.”
Farming animals and the environment
Animal agriculture is one of the most environmentally destructive industries there is. It’s responsible for at least 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. It’s also a leading cause of biodiversity loss and deforestation.
Studies have found that Western countries need to dramatically reduce meat consumption to avoid climate breakdown. But there remains a general lack of understanding of just how impactful our diets are on the planet.
A recent YouGov poll found that most Brits believe eating local meat is the answer to the industry’s environmental problems. However it’s not the transportation of meat that is the main cause for concern. Raising animals for food remains the chief issue, due to its ties to methane emissions and land and resource use.
Universities go plant-based
But it appears younger people are becoming more aware of the destructive nature of the animal-based food industry.
Earlier this year, a study found that almost half of generation Z (those born between 1997 and 2012) “felt guilty” about ordering dairy. It also found that a quarter of respondents thought cutting animal products was the best thing for the environment.
While Stirling is the first UK university to go plant-based, it follows a number of similar initiatives in other countries.
In 2021, 34 university campuses in the German capital of Berlin committed to drastically reducing meat options on environmental grounds.
Further, a number of US colleges have pledged to dramatically increase plant-based options on their campuses.
McGovern told PBN that there are over 40 UK universities with active campaigners encouraging their union’s to follow in Stirling’s footsteps.
They said: “We’re extremely hopeful of seeing others follow Stirling’s example and show that the new generation of students is taking the need to put social, animal, and climate justice at the forefront of our thinking.”