In a referendum on 12 March that saw a higher turn out than college presidential elections, students voted in favour of Meat Free Monday. Organised by the Student Union, the referendum saw an attendance of over 60% with 216 votes for Meat Free Monday, 145 against and 21 abstentions.
Wadham College Student Union is a combined representative body of undergraduate, postgraduate and visiting students which prides itself on being a progressive and engaged political group. Its work includes student support, welfare, entertainment and campaigning.
Meat Free Monday dinners were introduced two years ago but concerns over quality led to them being abandoned. Wadham student Josh Davis recently brought a motion to the Student Union to revive the concept.
“Passing MFM in the Wadham Student Union has not only been a huge step forwards in terms of our direct impact upon the environment but has also been really great in producing a discussion about vegetarianism,” said Davis. “It’s been a really rewarding experience getting involved in this campaign!”
The main arguments put forward concerned the considerable environmental impact of the meat industry and the significant saves and awareness that ‘Veggie Mondays’ would bring. The motion passed but, with some students arguing that they had not been represented, there was a petition for a referendum and only then was the concept agreed.
Dinner at Wadham ordinarily consists of two courses with one meat or fish option and one vegetarian. Students are automatically booked in for meat unless they change to vegetarian. As of today, both these options will be vegetarian on Mondays.
“I am very excited that the Student Union has made this important step towards moderating our environmental impact,” said Wadham College Student Union’s president Anya Metzer. “The wide variety of vegetarian food will hopefully mean that much good is achieved with no sacrifice at all!”
On the menu today is a choice of Sweet Potato and Spinach baked with Aubergine and Broad Beans with Lemon and Mint, or Butternut, Spinach and Goat’s Cheese Canneloni. Both will be served with Cous Cous and a Chickpea and Tomato Salad. Apple and Cinnamon Crumble with Custard will follow for dessert.
Wadham is the only Oxford college to have introduced a weekly dinner where no meat is served, but other colleges are taking steps to encourage sustainable choices. Lincoln College switches the default from meat to vegetarian on Mondays so students have to ‘opt in’ for a meat meal, while Brasenose, Oriel and Balliol occasionally change the options from two meat and one vegetarian at dinner to two vegetarian and one meat.