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Oxford students vote to ban beef and lamb from campus canteens
18 November 2020, 09:47 | Updated: 18 November 2020, 11:23
Students at Oxford University have voted to ban beef and lamb from campus canteens and restaurants in a bid to tackle climate change.
Student officials have begun to lobby the university to ban the products after the Students' Union voted by two-thirds in favour of the measure.
A motion read that students “request fortnightly meetings with the university authorities to advocate for the adoption of a university policy surrounding meat reduction and removal, especially in respect of beef and lamb [and to campaign for] the University to issue advice to faculties, departments, and colleges on how they may follow suit in removing beef and lamb."
Campaigners for the ban referred to the EAT-Lancet report, which argues that in developed countries the consumption of red meat should be "severely limited".
It also recommended increasing the amount of fruit, vegetables, nuts and legumes eaten to rebalance people's diets and help reduce carbon emissions.
Oxford SU Vice President, Ben Farmer, told student newspaper Cherwell: “I welcome the mandate to engage the University on this important issue.
"However, it is important to recognise that food-based changes may not be possible for every student or staff member at the University.
"Further, food-based changes are just one part of changes we’d like to see the University make to tackle the Climate Crisis.“We look forward to updating students at future Student Councils regarding the progress of this motion.”
Mo Metcalf-Fisher of the Countryside Alliance told LBC labelled the idea "draconian" and said that students should not be denied the right to choose which food they eat.
He said: "British farmers produce some of the finest red meat products in the world, while complying with the highest ethical and environmental standards.
"No one should not be denied the right to choose what food they wish to eat. Those behind this motion at the Oxford University Students’ Union have displayed a complete lack of appreciation for our world class standards by pushing for this draconian ban.
"Students expect lectures in academia, not the diet they follow. Pushing to reduce carbon is laudable but this is entirely the wrong approach.
"Committing to purchasing local, sustainable red meat with a low mileage, is the best way of protecting the environment and freedom of choice.
"Let's hope the colleges see sense and continue to allow their students to consume their diets of choice, free of regulation."
It follows moves by the institution's Oxbridge rival Cambridge University, which decided to replace beef and lamb with plant-based foods in 2016.
The university reported in 2019 that its carbon plummeted by a third and the change has made a significant difference to its carbon footprint with minimal disruption to student life.
Removing the meat products from its 14 outlets and roughly 1,500 annual events resulted in a 33% reduction in carbon emissions per kilogram of food purchased, officials confirmed.
There was also a 28% reduction in land use per kilogram of food purchased in a study which compared the university's footprint before and after the changes.