Growing number of UK universities banning meat in a bid to tackle climate change

Sarah Young
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An increasing number of universities in the UK are promoting veganism amid growing concerns about the environmental impact of the meat industry.

On Friday, the PA news agency published findings from a new investigation into the types of food provided on campus at educational institutions across the country.

The results showed that veganism is becoming commonplace at universities, with around half of the 144 UK institutions involved in the survey saying they have introduced dedicated events such as “meat-free Mondays”, or others aimed at non-meat eaters.

Elswhere, the data showed that a total of 44 universities (31 per cent) in the UK have established dedicated vegetarian or vegan cafes or other food outlets, while a further 18 have partially done so or are planning to in the near future.

A small number of institutions have gone even further, with several banning the sale of meat products such as beef from canteens, events and meetings.

At least 11 universities have either removed specific items, limited the sale of meat, or are actively reducing the amount on offer, the investigation indicates.

Among them are Goldsmiths, University of London and Cambridge University, both of which removed beef from menus in September last year.

Vanessa Gouws, head of commercial services at Goldsmiths, said the institution has seen a “very positive response” to the removal of beef and the introduction of more vegetarian and vegan dishes alongside meat options.

“People appreciate the environmental benefits but it also fits in with modern lifestyle choices,” Gouws said.

“We recently launched a new cafe on campus specialising in vegetarian and vegan meals as this was what our students and staff were asking for.

"Feedback has been extremely positive and they are seeing increasing footfall at the cafe that complements the offer of other campus food outlets."

The move follows a number of studies which have found that eating a vegan diet could be the “single biggest way” to reduce your environmental impact on earth.

Researchers at the University of Oxford found in 2018 that cutting meat and dairy products from your diet could reduce an individual's carbon footprint from food by up to 73 per cent.

Meanwhile, if everyone stopped eating these foods, they stated that global farmland use could be reduced by 75 per cent, an area equivalent to the size of the US, China, Australia and the EU combined.

Not only would this result in a significant drop in greenhouse gas emissions, it would also free up wild land lost to agriculture, one of the primary causes for mass wildlife extinction, the researchers added.

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