Call it a plant-based boat race. Just weeks after Cambridge city council hit the news over its policy on environmentally friendly food, Oxford has voted to serve only vegan grub at internal council events.
Students in the two university towns are already engaged in a series of ante-upping measures to remove planet-trashing meat from the menu at various colleges and student unions, and now civic leaders appear to be following suit. The Oxford city council motion, proposed by Labour councillor Paula Dunne, was passed unanimously earlier this month.
While meat options will still be available alongside plant-based at council catered events, it’s possible Oxford will eventually move into line with its mortarboarded rival. Cambridge is pressing ahead with plans to make all its civic events vegan by 2026 despite facing a media backlash in January after revealing food served at a Remembrance Day event last year went uneaten.
Dunne told her colleagues at the vote: “In the UK we eat twice as much meat and dairy as the global average, which is not sustainable on a finite planet, as there is not enough land in the world to meet this demand. The rate at which we are eating meat and dairy is the leading cause of modern species extinctions.”
Oxfordshire county council and Exeter city council have already passed similar meat free measures. The votes are wins for the Plant-Based Schools and Councils campaign, backed by Animal Rebellion, which is lobbying hard to get healthier, cheaper and more planet-friendly food served to pupils and citizens up and down the country.
Green councillor Ian Middleton said the move was not about “restricting what people eat in their daily lives. That will remain their personal choice. Equally it is every councillor’s choice to eat what they want. The only difference is that our councils will not be actively offering non-plant-based options.
“Instead, they will be setting an example by showing that even a small reduction in the consumption of meat and dairy can have a big impact on climate change and public health.”
As for the ongoing rivalry between the two cities, it probably doesn’t bear mentioning that Cambridge beat Oxford in both the men’s and women’s Boat Races this year … as well as in the men’s and women’s Veteran Boat Races … and the men’s and women’s Lightweight Boat Races … but if that competitiveness helps propel them forward in their mission to go greener, then we’ll be cheering both sides to the winning line.