Farmers have blasted a vote by the University of East Anglia’s Student Union to ban the sale of beef from its on-campus outlets.
The university’s student-elected Union Council passed the motion for climate change reasons, saying students are becoming more concerned by the climate crisis.
Several other universities, including University of Cambridge, Goldsmiths University of London, and Portugal’s oldest university, have already dropped beef.
Oliver Rubinstein, the National Farmers’ Union East Anglia advisor, said: “We were disappointed to hear of this decision and we have contacted the UEA and asked to meet them. The National Farmers Union is committed to tackling climate change, and we have ambitious plans for the industry to be net-zero by 2040.
“But we won’t achieve this by curbing our own production and exporting it abroad to countries that don’t have the same environmental standards or climate ambitions that we have here. The UEA is surrounded by many, high-welfare, sustainable producers of beef, and these farmers need its support.
“It would be much better for UEA to commit to sourcing locally, instead of penalizing farmers who are doing the right thing for the environment and food security.”
‘Sustainable plant-based food system’
According to research by campaign group, Moving Animals, seven more student unions would also like to work towards banning the sale of beef at their university outlets, with many others working to increase their plant-based food offerings.
“Goldsmiths made headlines worldwide when they banned beef in September – now the University of East Anglia has joined them, and at least seven more student unions would like to follow suit. That’s an overwhelming response in such a short amount of time,” Moving Animals co-founder, Paul Healey said in a statement sent to Plant Based News.
“Universities continue to have a major role in implementing policies and influencing public thought, as well as providing much of the academic work and research that creates the conversation around the climate catastrophe.
“Higher places of learning also represent a significant number of the UK population, who can – and should – be mobilized to support a wider transition towards a more sustainable plant-based food system.
“Moving Animals has now joined forces with the #NoBeef campaign, a UK-based group specializing in the science behind banning high-carbon foods like beef, which is supported by the likes of Paul McCartney and Peter Gabriel. Together, the groups hope to increase the pressure and encourage more universities to ditch beef.”