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London students demand 100 per cent plant-based catering in multi-campus protest

Students from UCL, Imperial, and London Met dropped banners across campuses as part of their campaign


Multi-campus protests have occurred in London, with  students demanding 100 per cent plant-based catering from their universities.

Banners reading “Plant-based University: End the Climate Crisis” were unfurled at several London Universities this week, including UCL, Imperial and London Metropolitan.

The latest move is part of a broader movement across universities in the UK and Ireland advocating a transition to plant-based catering as a necessary step in the fight against the climate and ecological crises.

The campaign, organised by the Plant-Based Universities group and supported by nearly 1000 academics in a recently published open letter, has already led six UK students’ unions to pledge to ban the sale of animal products by their caterers.

These are:

  • University College London
  • Sterling University
  • Kent University
  • Birmingham University
  • Queen Mary University London
  • London Metropolitan University

Cambridge University’s SU has nominally pledged to endorse a plant-based catering system and is in negotiations with food providers.

UCL’s SU is one of the seven that has voted to back Plant-Based Universities’ demands. Their Union Executive meeting saw an 86 per cent majority vote in favour of the motion, while 75 per cent of the Welfare and Community Zone supported the shift to vegan catering.

Despite the UCL SU making the vegan pledge, much of the catering on campus is carried out by external food providers. Plant-Based Universities is currently in talks with directors of Food at UCL in an effort to achieve a similar pledge from non-SU caterers. Its protest this week aims to apply pressure on the university to act and to hold the SU accountable to ensure the transition happens.

Members of “Plant-Based Universities” were also actively distributing informative leaflets and engaging in campus-wide discussions to advocate for their cause. The group asserts that universities should align with the comprehensive research conducted within their own academic institutions, aiming to address and minimise the environmental impacts associated with animal farming and fishing.

They reference key research from the University of Oxford that found moving to a fully plant based catering system would free up as much as 76 per cent of the world’s farmland.

via Plant-Based Universities

Alfie Hall, a UCL medical student and coordinator of the Plant-Based Universities campaign at his university, said: “Universities must act on the climate research that their own academics are producing, and they must lead by example to the rest of society – because we’re not going to get that leadership from our current politicians.”

The campaigns have expanded to over 70 campuses worldwide, partly as a result of three summer camps that further educated students on how to effectively campaign. Those interested in becoming part of the campaign are urged to register on the Plant Based Universities website.

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