Article by Joanna Sarah-Freedman
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A UK university has made the bold decision to turn its Students Union fully plant-based, and it’s sparked a lively conversation online.
Stirling University has pledged to ban the sale of meat and dairy across its three SU food outlets, after a campaign from Plant-Based Universities (PBU).
It comes after students voted in favour of the move, citing the environmental impact of meat production as well as animal rights.
It won’t come into full force until 2025, but in the meantime, the university plans to ensure 50 percent of the options being served are vegan by the 2023-24 academic year.
As you can imagine, such a bold choice has certainly stirred up the internet, with some in favour of the decision and others not too happy at all.
Reaction to Stirling University’s vegan pledge
The student vote was supported by the likes of BBC presenter, Chris Packham, of Springwatch and Autumnwatch, who tweeted in favour of the decision, writing that it was an example of “young people doing it for themselves”.
And he wasn’t alone. One Twitter user wrote: “Well done Stirling Uni”.
Whilst another penned: “Great to see young people leading the way in climate change and healthier lifestyles. Democratic vote too. All good.”
But there were several more noting their disapproval, too.
“Huh? Forcing people to eat vegan is wrong,” said another. “I’m a vegetarian but I don’t tell or force people/ family/ friends what to eat. This is just silly and should be stopped.”
Whilst a fellow critic agreed: “Why they pushing this on people? I would just bring in a Big Mac lol”.
“This is ridiculous. I am a veggie by choice and I would object to have anyone’s values imposed on me,” said somebody else. “I don’t have the right to impose my views on others. What do these people hope to achieve? Probably all they will achieve is alienation.”
The vote was passed by a majority of 100 students out of 17,000 who attend the uni overall. Those who voted were present the university’s November general meeting.
Defending the decision on BBC Scotland, Nathan McGovern, founder of Plant-Based Universities, said he saw the move to plant-based eating as a “key solution to the climate crisis.”
“The details of the motion were available to the whole student body over a week before the vote was taken.
“The majority of students who took the opportunity to vote, voted in favour of the motion for this transition. That is choice,” he added, in response to critics of the low turnout.
“It shows that people invested in creating a better world and a sustainable food system are pushing for this change.
“So, absolutely, we would love to see other universities and catering establishments follow this.”
— Chris Packham (@ChrisGPackham) November 14, 2022
But a representative of the Countryside Alliance said that the move was “illogical”.
“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,” said spokesperson Mo Metcalf-Fisher.
“Stirling’s students’ union would be much better off sourcing sustainable local meat and dairy produce from Scottish farmers instead.”
A similar motion was previously suggested at Edinburgh University, but students voted against it. Whilst Stirling has now become the first UK uni to vote in favour of a plant-based food offering, they aren’t the first in Europe.
We’ve already seen similar across German universities, plus, US catering company Sodexo is on a mission to make 42 percent of university meals plant-based.