Edinburgh university students refuse to adopt vegan meals on campus | Totally Vegan Buzz
Image: Animal Rebellion

Edinburgh students believe that transitioning to vegan menus on campus is cost-intensive, limits their dietary choices, and excludes an important  healthy component from their diet.

Edinburgh University students have voted against calls for campus venues to go vegan by 2027. 

The proposal came from the Plant-Based University (PBU) of Edinburgh in a bid to fight against climate change, favour local produce, and reduce the carbon footprint of meals.

The proposal also sought to provide more dietary options for students.

But only 19% of the 812 students who voted were in favour of the plans.

This outcome is in stark contrast to other universities, such as Stirling, Cambridge, Queen Mary’s, and Birmingham, that voted in favour of a plant-based transition.

Last year, the student union at Scotland’s University of Stirling became the first in the UK to commit to banning meat and dairy products from its campus outlets by 2025. 

Restrictive and cost-intensive

Those students who rejected the vegan plans argued that the motion limited dietary choices and meat was an important part of a healthy diet.

Additionally, some expressed concerns about the cost of implementing such a program. While others saw the benefits of reducing the environmental impact, they felt that the university should not be limiting dietary choices.

This is the second time Edinburgh students have voted against banning meat and dairy. In a similar poll in 2020, nearly 6,000 students took part, of whom 58% said they still wanted meat options on the menu.

Niamh Roberts, president of the students’ association, said: “Our student council is the democratic decision-making body for the students’ association, and any student can submit a proposal to be considered at council.

“All of our students are welcome to attend council meetings to discuss and vote on the motions that have been submitted, with the aim of improving the student experience at the University of Edinburgh.

“The Students’ Association facilitates these conversations, but the power ultimately lies in students’ hands. For the vote on Plant-Based meals, as we do with all votes, we used our democratic processes to ensure fairness and encouraged students to participate in the topics that matter to them.”

Pro-meat lobby rejoices

The Countryside Alliance, an organisation to champion countryside activities such as farming, rural services, small businesses and field sports, praised the decision, calling it “a victory for common sense, farming, and freedom of choice.”

It also urged Edinburgh students to support ‘sustainable farming communities’.

Plant-based universities (PBU) campaign

The nationwide student-led Plant-Based Universities campaign is an initiative that calls for “sustainable and 100 percent plant-based” catering at university cafés for environmental reasons.

With increasing concern about the impact of animal agriculture on the planet, plant-based diets have become increasingly popular as an alternative. The campaign seeks to create awareness among university communities about the benefits of plant-based catering and encourage universities to take steps towards implementing it.

Following the results, 19-year-old campaign member Emily Kemp said: “This is a setback in our strive for climate justice, but not one we will allow to stop us. Going plant-based is a step that must be taken; it is only a shame that it will not happen sooner.

“If Edinburgh’s students are so far unconvinced that animal agriculture is wrecking our planet and would rather take the words of those with a vested interest in concealing the truth, then we will continue to work to change that.”

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