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Group of Bristol students demand plant-based catering

A group of student campaigners wants the university to adopt 100 per cent plant-based diet to help tackle the climate crisis.

Image courtesy of Plant Based Univesities

By William Budd, News Writer

Students at the University of Bristol unveil a banner demanding 100 per cent plant-based catering

University of Bristol students took to the steps of the Victoria Rooms on the 25th of September to display a banner calling for more action by the university in order to help tackle the climate crisis.

The banner raised at 1:30 pm read: ‘Plant-Based Universities: End the climate crisis’, highlighting the importance in the eyes of the campaigners of the roles of universities in reducing carbon emissions.

The campaigners in front of Victoria Rooms - Plant Based Universities

This action comes in conjunction with similar protests seen at other south of England universities - namely Kent, Southampton and Falmouth - forming a part of the Plant-Based Universities campaign.

In addition to this, action was also seen at various north of England universities on the 21st of September. Throughout the past year, said campaign has seen the student unions of seven UK universities voting to move towards 100 per cent plant-based catering to tackle the climate and ecological crises, with Plant-Based Universities releasing an open letter calling for the transition.

This open letter has received widespread support, being signed by nearly 1,000 academics and notables, including Chris Packham CBE and Dale Vince OBE, as well as world-leading climate researchers. Professor Colin Davis, Chair in Cognitive Psychology at the University of Bristol said: ‘The overwhelming evidence of the impact of animal agriculture on greenhouse gas emissions shows that we must change the way we produce food and what we eat. Universities have a key role to play in promoting and showcasing the radical changes required to address the climate crisis’

In support of the campaigners, Professor Davis went on to say: ‘This student-led campaign offers an evidence-based approach that has the potential to be adopted throughout the higher education sector. Having led the way in being the first university to declare a climate emergency, the University of Bristol should now demonstrate the bold action needed to respond to this emergency by subscribing to the Plant-Based Universities initiative.’

In addition to dropping banners, students are playing an active role in handing out leaflets and discussing with their peers about the campaign. Many of the campaigners point to research done at Harvard University when highlighting the unsustainability of university catering at present. The 2019 Harvard study suggested that the UK could go carbon-negative if it switched to a plant-based food system and undertook mass rewilding to increase biodiversity - before even cutting out fossil fuels. The Plant-Based Universities campaign insists that universities have a responsibility to the future of their students to transition to 100 per cent sustainable plant-based catering

The Plant-Based Universities campaign, a sub-campaign of the group Animal Rising, constitutes a nationwide group of students pushing for their universities to adopt fully plant-based catering.

Vegetarian and Vegan Society at the Freshers Fair - Milan Perera

The group claims that universities must follow the scientific research that they produce, which details the impact of animal farming and fishing. The campaign has an active presence in over 60 institutions, with the group encouraging interested students to sign up and run local campaigns.

Regarding this latest development, a spokesperson for the University of Bristol said: 'Our food on campus is procured from ethical and sustainable sources, and we aim to cater for a range of dietary requirements.

'We have a wide variety of plant-based options available across campus. We run a plant-forward menu where 80% of our menu in our catered residences is plant-based, and 75% of our menu in Senate House is also plant-based. This has reduced our carbon emissions in this area considerably.

'We have also streamlined our offerings and pricings to increase non-dairy milk sales by 10%.

'More information our food and sustainability is available here: Our food and sustainability | Campus Division | University of Bristol.'

Do you think the university should adopt 100 per cent plant based catering? Let us know.