By Seb Davies, Third Year, Philosophy
The Bristol Student Union council has narrowly voted against a motion to ban non-plant based products from SU outlets.
This decision was welcomes by the Countryside Alliance who represents the interest of rural businesses such as meat and dairy production.
Students at the University of Bristol were voting on whether the SU should transition towards having 100 per cent plant based catering, as well as a requirement that the SU lobby for all vending machines on campus to be 100 per cent plant based.
Those proposing the motion cite concerns about the impact our diet can have upon the environment, with particular concerns around the emissions resulting from dairy and meat production.
Ultimately the motion was opposed, with 57 per cent of the council opposing the decision. 32 per cent of the student council were in favour, whilst 11 per cent abstained from voting. One individual who voted against the motion recognised that sustainability is an important issue but ‘there are more suitable alternatives, such as lobbying the university to source meat from more ethical sources…’
According to the Countryside Alliance, they are leading the rural fightback campaign which focuses on councils backing local farmers and locally sourced meat, dairy and plant based products at council events. Offered as a motion before councils, it has been successfully passed in Cornwall, Suffolk and Portsmouth.
The initiative is in response to a number of councils, such as Enfield and Oxfordshire, that have chosen to make it mandatory for catering at their events to be completely vegan.
The Bristol SU’s rejection of a vegan campus is not the first university to reject such an initiative. Edinburgh University rejected a similar motion earlier this year, as well as the University of East Anglia which voted to overturn an earlier motion to turn its SU completely vegan.
On the SU vote, Sabrina Roberts, External Affairs Officer at the Countryside Alliance said: ‘We’re pleased to see students voting overwhelmingly against compulsory diets and in favour of common sense. The vote by Bristol’s Student Union demonstrates the sensibility of our Rural Fightback, which we have been taking across the nation. People should have the freedom to choose what goes on their plate; we should be encouraging the public to eat locally sourced produce, which reduces food miles, not forcing them to follow any one particular diet.’
She went on to say: ‘British meat is amongst the most sustainable in the world. Farmers should be celebrated for their contributions to sustainability endeavours through regenerative farming techniques and the production of renewable energy.’
Featured image: Milan Perera
What do you think about SU’s decision to reject the proposal to make university menu 100 per cent plant-based?