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Cambridge students vote to go vegan

Move by students union puts pressure on university bosses and individual colleges to move towards wholly plant-based canteens

Posted : 24 February 2023

What do we want? Plant-based food at Cambridge! When do we want it? Whenever the university agrees!

Some of the brightest young minds in the country have voted in favour of a transition to plant-based food at Cambridge’s student union canteens and cafes. Now all they need is for the dons to give their approval.

If accepted and acted on by the powers that be, the vote by the student union will see the university’s catering services working towards ditching meat and dairy altogether, in favour of greener, more sustainable grub.

While the proposed change will only affect food served on campus, rather than what is dished up at Cambridge’s 31 colleges, it sends a powerful message that will hopefully inspire others to act. The organisers of the campaign called it “an extremely strong mandate for colleges to begin transitioning to 100 per cent plant-based menus”.

Cambridge joins other universities in the drive to cut down on the amount of meat served on campus, including University College LondonGoldsmithsUniversity of the West of England, the University of East Anglia and Ulster, as well as universities in France. A canny scheme in Portsmouth rewarded cash-strapped students with a free meal for eating plant-based dishes.

And if saving the planet isn’t enough of a motivation, it’s worth noting that Oxford colleges WadhamRegent’s ParkPembrokeJesus, Brasenose and New College are already engaged in tackling meat eating. And they won the men’s Boat Race last year. However, Cambridge did beat its rival in the red meat stakes (and, incidentally, in last year’s women’s race), banning beef and lamb from its menus in 2016, a full four years before Oxford got its act in gear.

After four weeks of consultation, following lobbying by the Plant-Based Universities campaign, backed by Animal Rebellion, the motion to move to plant-based food was backed by 72 per cent of those who voted. William Smith, of Plant-Based Universities’ Cambridge branch, said: “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. By removing animal products from its menus, the university could significantly reduce its environmental impact and showcase to the world its commitment to sustainability.”

A university spokesperson said Cambridge “has a sustainable food policy which also seeks to actively promote plant-based options, remove unsustainable fish from the menu and reduce food waste. We always welcome suggestions from students and staff.”

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