Students from universities all over the UK are calling for fully plant-based meals in cafeterias before the 2023-2024 academic year. The “Plant-based Universities” campaign is supported by the Animal Rebellion justice group, a mass movement, dedicated to bringing a transition to the sustainable and more ethical plant-based food system.

Plant-based meals at uni: Why is this important?

plant-based meals at university

A 2006 United Nation report has stated that the transport sector combined has a lower greenhouse emission level than animal agriculture. And while the agricultural sector is searching for solutions of moving to the sustainable functioning of the whole branch, the responsibility for that transition lies far beyond the producers. It lies with each and every one of us.

37%  – This is the minimum estimated contribution of animal agriculture to greenhouse gases emissions. Environmental justice group, ClimateNexus, has reported that if we all switched to the plant based-diet, the emissions could be cut in half.  Knowing that the university cafeteria is commonly used by thousands of students, the transition to 100% animal-free menus would have a significant impact. This is why the student activists are very initiative in altering the university meals.

What has been done already?

Many universities all around the world have been incorporating sustainable development concepts into their strategic goals. Some Berlin universities’ canteens, for example, are predominantly vegan or vegetarian and have only one meat option offered.

In the UK students have been actively initiating educational events to show the impact of animal products on the environment. Vaania Kapoor Achuthan, a student activist from University College London notes that the universities are the “sites of knowledge”.

Therefore universities would understand the importance of discussing the harmful impact of the animal products industry. This, in turn, places the responsibility on universities to take all the actions available to minimise their own environmental footprint. Therefore, Vaania says that the campaigning will continue until the universities will transit towards 100% plant-based catering.

What hasn’t been done yet?

university canteen

The policy motions to shift to all-plant menus by the 2023-2024 academic year have been presented in several UK universities. This includes University Colledge London, Coventry University and King’s College London. While the universities haven’t rendered their verdict yet, the students are saying they will keep trying to make progress in establishing the institutions’ involvement in the sustainable development movement.

Apart from the Animal rebellion ‘Plant-based Universities’ initiative, there are many more university-stationed campaigns. These aim to minimise the damaging effect of the animal-based food industry. For instance, Real Food Challenge aims to create a ‘healthy, fair and green food system’. Among that, they specifically focus on commitments in local and humane food in educational institutions.

However, the Animal Rebellion not only tries to limit the dependence on animal agriculture for the local communities. They also do it for the rest of the humanity and planet.

What can I do? 

Big changes don’t need to come from the most initiative and creative of students.  Likewise, there is no need to rally your friends and head to the university’s main office en masse- unless you want to! Choosing vegan options when going to the university cafe or adopting a plant-based diet would make an impact as well.  If you are not ready to exclude meat from your diet yet, try giving it up for one day a week. Or even for the whole month! It’s a bit late to join the No Meat March, but, luckily, there is another ‘M’ month ahead! No Meat May annually organises meatless month to raise the awareness of the meat industry consequences.

Here are some recipes that you might find useful when choosing what sustainable meal to cook for dinner:

  • The Veganuary is over, but the recipes will always be relevant. Be sure to check the chocolate pudding – it is undoubtedly the fastest delicious vegan treat ever.
  • If you are feeling fancy or want to impress your friends with some Gordon Ramsay skills, see these fabulous vegan recipes
  • Tired of getting oatmeal, smoothies or granola bars in the mornings? Check these diverse and tasty breakfast options!
  • Having no time too cook and all the vegan meal deal shelf, as luck would have it, is completely fancy? Try the quickest mouth-watering 5-minute recipes