Stirling Students Union set to only serve plant-based food

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Stirling Students’ Union has committed to making all of their food plant-based by 2025.

Studio, Venue and Underground Coffee Shop are set to transition to fully plant-based catering, cutting all animal products and by-products from their menus.

It is understood that Stirling is the first student union in the UK to make such a move.

This comes after a motion was put forward by the Plant-based Universities campaign group at Stirling, who have been calling for “just and sustainable” catering on campus.

The motion was passed by the Students’ Union on Thursday November 10.

The Union aims to make 50 per cent of their food plant-based by the start of the 2023/24 academic year and achieve 100 per cent by 2025.

Why are students demanding plant-based catering?

Students in over twenty universities across the UK are pushing for a transition to fully plant-based catering on their campuses, as part of the Plant-based Universities campaign.

They are ringing alarm bells about the climate impact of animal agriculture, with the meat, fishing and dairy industries producing more greenhouse gas emissions than the transport sector.

Plant-based Universities said: “The worst effects of climate breakdown are already being experienced across the globe and industries like meat, fishing and dairy are undeniably a part of that.”

“Universities are where we get so much climate science from, and as such, they have a responsibility to listen to it.

“Plant-based catering on campus is the only future-proof option.”

The motion, proposed to the Students’ Union by Aaron Caulfield, notes that the largest proportion of global emissions from food production comes from animal agriculture (57 per cent).

In comparison, the production of plant-based foods contributes to 29 per cent of emissions.

Caulfield said: “I was pushed to bring this motion by the belief that universities should not be hypocritical and should follow their own research and the research of other institutions.

“A plant-based food system within the Union and hopefully in the future within the University as a whole will be a positive step in tackling an unsustainable food system and make the university a UK leader in helping to tackle the climate emergency.

“It should also help people who would not otherwise be exposed to vegan food to expand their meat-free options within their own diet at home.”

Key players in the Plant-based Universities campaign: Imogen Robertson (left), Aaron Caulfield (centre) and Nicole Trull (right). Image Credit: The Vegan and Rights for Animals Society

88 billion animals are bred, reared and slaughtered for food globally each year.

Members of the Vegan and Rights for Animals Society (VERA) at Stirling have been involved in the campaign efforts and are celebrating this “massive first step” towards plant-based catering on campus.

VERA said: “Over 70 per cent of all EU arable land is used to produce animal feed instead of crops for human consumption. These industries demand inefficient use of land and resources.

“We believe that universities have a responsibility to act on the research they produce about climate change and not fund industries that are harming animals and the planet.”

‘A monumental decision’

Stirling Students’ Union is understood to be the first in the UK to pledge a transition to fully plant-based catering.

The national Plant-based Universities campaign team have deemed this “an unprecedented step towards climate justice within our universities,” saying:

“Stirling Students’ Union has listened to the scientific advice from world-leading academics and are setting a gold-standard in environmental policy for other universities to follow.”

Imogen Robertson, one of the campaigners at Stirling, said: “This vote is a clear sign that young people are willing to take decisive action on the climate and ecological emergencies.

“We hope this sparks a wave of bold action across UK universities to commit to fully just and sustainable plant-based catering.”

What’s next?

Stirling Students’ Union have committed to the target of 50 per cent plant-based catering by 2023/24 and 100 per cent by 2025.

Campaigners at Stirling are set to work with Students’ Union staff to ensure a smooth transition to fully plant-based catering, keen to make available “cheap, delicious and eco-friendly food” on campus.

However, a spokesperson for the Union has voiced that there are still logistical issues that need ironed out.

They said: “It was noted at the meeting that as the impact of what was passed would have a commercial implication for the charity, this would require further scrutiny to establish how the Union could move towards supporting the motion.

“We look forward to working with the proposer on that basis.”

Featured Image Credit: The Vegan and Rights for Animals Society

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News Editor at Brig Newspaper
Fourth year Journalism Studies at the University of Stirling


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