Today we welcome a new arrival to the MFM fold: Ulster University, in Northern Ireland. The academic institution is encouraging meat free eating across its four campuses, becoming the first on the island of Ireland to make this momentous leap into the green.
This inaugural Meat Free Monday will see 26,000 students across four campuses – in Belfast, Jordanstown, Coleraine and Derry – tucking into meat free food across all the catering outlets. While meat won’t be removed from menus entirely, special offers and promotions will encourage the perennially cash-strapped cohort of young people to gravitate towards the more environmentally friendly and nutritious grub on offer.
The university’s caterer, Mount Charles, has jumped at the chance to take part, as have the Students Union’s food providers. From the Food Hall at Belfast campus and Moka Bridge coffee house at Coleraine to Einstein’s at Jordanstown and u:EAT food hall at Magee – not to mention the UEat refectories and Students Union outlets – more meat free options will be available than ever before.
Grace Boyle, chair of the student union’s Love Veggie society, played a key role in Ulster’s adoption of MFM by starting a petition to gather support for the move, because of a lack of meat free and vegan options at Ulster, and because the university does not formally acknowledge that the meat and dairy industries are major contributors to climate change. She seconded the motion put forward by the executive at a meeting of the Student Council last November, where more than 60 students gave their support to joining the campaign and the motion was passed unanimously.
Boyle said: “As someone who hasn’t eaten meat for over 15 years, I have found it difficult to find food options growing up. When I started university, I noticed a lack of vegan/vegetarian options on campus. Our society campaigned for more veggie options in university catering, and we actively promote a meat free lifestyle – I’m delighted that our union has affiliated with Meat Free Monday as it is a great platform for us to campaign upon.”
Andrew McAnallen, the student union’s vice-president for Academic and Student Affairs, said: “This campaign is something I’m hugely passionate about. Meat Free Monday will encourage students to ditch meat. I know that students who participate will see great advantages – it’s better for your health, it’s better for the planet and it’s easier than ever before to be vegan.” Hannah Rooney, vice-president for Campaigns and Communications, added: “Meat Free Monday is a new concept to me, but I was so excited when it was brought to the table during a campaigns planning day. It sounded like a great way to get students thinking about the amount of meat they eat, while challenging them to try meat free options. I’m proud to be the first union in Ireland affiliated with it and can’t wait to get more unions involved.”
Several universities in Britain are already part of the Meat Free Monday family, including University College London and Regent’s Park College, Oxford. Ulster becomes the second university in the British Isles to join MFM since the beginning of the year, after East Anglia made the move last month.