Fury as university takes meat off the menu in favour of first 100% vegan student union

16 November 2022, 21:09

Stirling Uni's SU has voted to remove meat from the menu
Stirling Uni's SU has voted to remove meat from the menu. Picture: Alamy

By Chris Samuel

A Scottish university union will go 100 per cent vegan in a UK first, after students voted to drop dairy and meat products by 2025, with campaigners condemning the move as an 'attack on freedom of choice'.

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Last week, the University of Stirling's student union voted to transition move to '100 per cent plant-based catering' within three years, and half of the options are set to be vegan by the 2023-24 academic year.

The Plant Based Universities campaign - supported by Animal Rebellion, which is a splinter group of Extinction Rebellion - welcomed the result.

It means the union will become the first in Britain to approve a ban on meat, fish and dairy products in its outlets, after a beef ban was rejected at the University of Edinburgh in 2020.

Of the around 6,000 votes cast in the campus-wide referendum in the capital, 58 per cent rejected a proposal to ban the sale of beef on campus.

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Rural campaigners are hoping that Sterling University will reject the motion, or consider asking students to take part in a broader, campus-wide poll, similar to the Edinburgh vote, The Mail reported.

The Countryside Alliance believe the union should opt for produce sourced locally with low airmiles, rather than bringing in an 'illogical', all-out ban.

Mo Metcalf-Fisher, a spokesman for the organisation said: "Obviously this is an attack on freedom of choice imposed by a tiny number of students on the wider student body, but it is also illogical.

"Stirling's students' union would be much better off sourcing sustainable local meat and dairy produce from Scottish farmers instead.

"How can an avocado flown in from South America have eco-superiority over a piece of grass fed beef from a local farm?

"Stirling University should demonstrate their support for Scottish farmers by ensuring they continue to supply meat and dairy, irrespective of what its students' union decide to do'."

A post on the Sterling University SU website confirmed that the motion to move to 100 per cent plant-based food by 2025 had been passed, a result which will impact the union's three eateries.

The university's ten food outlets will not be affected by the change.

Around 100 attendees were present in the meeting, representing the university's 17,000 students.

In documents on the union's website dated November 2, the motion states: "A transition to plant-based food is a necessary step in the development of a more sustainable food system, and to reduce the climatic effect on the planet.

"That this transition can be achieved without detriment to any particular person(s)."

It also noted: "Globally the largest proportion of emissions from food production comes from animal agriculture (57 per cent), with the emissions worldwide exceeding the entire emissions of the United States... the production of plant-based foods contributes to only 29 per cent of emissions.'

The decision was welcomed by Guardian columnist George Monbiot, who said: "It's fantastic to see the next generation taking control of their future and putting humans, nonhuman animals and the planet first."

BBC wildlife presenter Chris Packham said it was a 'good' move, writing on Twitter: "Young people doing it for themselves - this is good from @RebelsAnimal and @plantbasedunis @StirUni - posted on Instagram @veganuary @vivacampaigns."

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