University of Cambridge Could Go Plant-Based for the Planet, After Student Vote

Sophie Hirsh - Author

Feb. 23 2023, Published 12:54 p.m. ET

Fortunately for the sake of the planet, there are many universities educating the next generation on how they can play a part in solving the climate crisis. But at these very colleges, students are going straight from lessons on these topics to the cafeteria, where meat, dairy, and eggs are served, despite the animal agricultural industry's massive emissions and contribution to climate breakdown.

For that reason, the University of Cambridge may soon become a vegan college campus.

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In response to a campaign targeting the prestigious university, Cambridge students recently held a vote, proving that the majority of students want the campus to convert all of its menus to be completely plant-based, for the sake of the planet. But will this change really be put into practice? Keep reading for the full scoop.

Cambridge University
Source: Getty Images

Someone is seen walking on the University of Cambridge campus.

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Animal Rebellion's campaign Plant-Based Universities advocates for vegan college campuses.

Animal Rebellion, an organization and mass movement fighting for animal and climate justice, launched its Plant-Based Universities (PBU) campaign in 2021. The movement lobbies major universities across the U.K. to transform their on-campus dining options to be 100 percent plant-based, primarily based upon the awful environmental impacts of farming animals and fishing.

"Universities are where we get so much climate science from, and as such, they have a responsibility to listen to it," Animal Rebellion explained on its website. "With industries like meat, fishing, and dairy producing more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transport sector, plant-based catering on campus is the only future-proof option."

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Students at any U.K. university who want to create an on-campus chapter of PBU can fill out an interest form to get started. Presently, students from about 40 universities have taken on PBU campaigns — including students from Cambridge, evidently.

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The University of Cambridge has voted to support the Plant-Based Universities campaign on campus.

In September 2022, students formed Plant-Based Universities Cambridge.

Then, in mid-February 2023, Cambridge Students' Union voted on Plant-Based Universities Cambridge's official policy motion, which would facilitate a transition to 100 percent vegan catering at the University Catering Services. According to the PBU Instagram, 55 percent of the vote was in favor of the motion, and 21 percent were against it. The remainder of voters abstained, meaning 72 percent of non-abstaining votes were cast in favor of the motion.

That said, this does not mean the campus dining halls are guaranteed to go plant-based — rather, this simply means that Cambridge Students' Union has voted to “initiate talks” with the school's catering services in regards to transitioning to "'sustainable and 100 percent plant-based' catering in response to the climate and biodiversity crises," as per PBU.

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“It’s great that Cambridge Students’ Union has passed our motion to work with the University to implement a just and sustainable plant-based catering system," stated William Smith of Plant-Based Universities Cambridge. "By removing animal products from its menus, the University could significantly reduce its environmental impact and showcase to the world its commitment to sustainability."

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Smith also pointed out that University Catering Services already removed beef and lamb products from its menus back in 2016 — so the school is already on its way.

Hopefully the talks between the Cambridge Students’ Union and the catering services will be productive, and actually result in the campus transitioning to only serve plant-based options.

A 2018 University of Oxford study found that quitting eating meat and dairy is the most significant way an individual can reduce their environmental impact. Come on, Cambridge, don't you want to outdo your old rival by putting its research to use for the greater good?

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