Stirling’s Plant-Based Union Transition Begins

8 mins read

New menu items have arrived in Stirling’s Students’ Union in line with a motion for “just and sustainable” plant-based catering.

In November last year, the Students’ Union passed a motion committing to making their food 50 per cent plant-based by the 2023/24 academic year. It aims to reach a fully plant-based menu by 2025.  

These changes will only affect Studio, Venue and Underground; they will not affect university-owned eateries like Scran or Sup.

However, the full effect will not be noticed yet, as the Union has been forced to close Studio due to concerns over RAAC.

What’s on the menu?

In a statement, a Students’ Union spokesperson said: “Since the passing of the plant-based motion, the Union has been working to assess how we can work towards achieving what the motion set out.

“Students buying food in the Union will see a change across our menus this year with new items added.

“These include jacket potatoes with different plant-based toppings, sweet potato curry, vegan chili con carne, salad boxes, pasta boxes, jalapeno dippers, vegetable pakora, onion bhajis, and sweet potato fries.

“Underground will also have a new range of sandwiches, different breads, a soup of the day and new side options.”

The Union also confirmed that some items would be removed from the menu, including the chicken and cheese wrap and pizza toppings such as BBQ pork and meatballs.

The new menu will be rolled out at the beginning of the new semester.

The Union will be trialling a range of different plant-based meals across the year to work out what food students want, with customer habits and student feedback forming what they offer in the future.

plant-based union
Image Credit: Vegan & Rights for Animals Society

The Union spokesperson said: “We are confident that this will meet the current mandate and offer students a variety of food to choose from.

“As ever, one of the obvious challenges will be to ensure we are able to provide a range of meal options that also offer value for money.”

“We have worked to ensure that the pricing of our menu is budget-conscious and competitive but cannot escape the increased prices that everyone will be well aware of.

“As a Union, we are committed to providing value for money, but we are also committed to paying our people fairly.

“We hope we get it right, but will always be listening to students to help shape our service if they think we can do better.”

Plant-Based Universities

Students in several universities across the UK have been pushing for fully plant-based catering on their campuses, as part of the ‘Plant-Based Universities’ campaign which aims to tackle universities’ contribution to climate and ecological emergencies.

Stirling was the first Students’ Union in the UK to commit to serving only plant-based food. It was a controversial decision that sparked both university and national debate. The motion was supported by naturalist Chris Packham but denounced by the Countryside Alliance.

On September 4, Plant-Based Universities published an open letter to “put pressure on academic institutions to transition to 100% just and sustainable plant-based catering, with the intention of holding academic institutions to account on the issue of climate change.”

The open letter has collected over 800 signatures, comprising high-profile signatories and individuals from Scottish universities like Stirling, Strathclyde, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Many Stirling University lecturers have also signed the letter, including professors of the Natural Sciences and Psychology departments.

Dr Carol Jasper, a lecturer in Social Psychology at Stirling University, said: “It’s really inspiring that our students here at Stirling University have already voted for the catering of their union to be fully plant-based, ensuring animal harm reduction, and minimising the university’s impact upon the environment.”

She hopes that Stirling’s “leadership and drive for positive change” will encourage other universities to follow suit.

The open letter published by Plant-Based Universities was signed by over 850 academics and other notable figures. / Credit: @plantbasedunis on Instagram.

Imogen Robertson, one of the students behind the motion, believes there is a possibility for change with more people calling for plant-based catering.

“I think with the visible acceleration of climate breakdown, as seen through news outlets and around us with heat waves, as well as the strength of over 650 academics calling for plant-based catering, there is a new momentum for plant-based catering.”

Imogen is excited to see the final plant-based menu that Stirling’s Students’ Union has curated with the help of their consultation. They have provided the Union with a few helpful contacts, such as Made in Hackney, to aid with the formulation of the new menu.

Made in Hackney is a plant-based community cookery school that distributes meals to people in need within Hackney, an East London district. The school seeks to make plant-based meals low-priced, accessible and culturally appropriate.

Imogen added: “I think [the new menu] will stimulate conversation, just as the introduction of the plant-based catering motion did so last semester.

“I know I have worked toward the 50 per cent plant-based menu (100 per cent by 2025) being accessible to those with digestive illnesses such as myself, other dietary-related restrictions, as well as being culturally appropriate for all students on campus.

“I would hope people are more open to plant-based food in light of the evidence that we absolutely need to support a transition to 100% plant-based if we want to mitigate climate breakdown and deliver justice for non-human animals.”

Where to leave your feedback

Students will be able to give their feedback on the menu by emailing the Union at theunion@stir.ac.uk.

They can also have their voice heard by getting in touch through social media channels, or through democratic channels such as Union General Meetings.

Featured Image Credit: Student’s Union / Health Aid / Vegan and Rights for Animals Society

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A 23 year old aspiring writer.
News Editor at Brig Newspaper, 23/24. / Comment Editor, 22/23.
Msc International Journalism.

Founder of https://midwaymagazine.co.uk/

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News Editor 2023/24 at Brig Newspaper. Former Chief Sub-Editor 2022/23.
MSc International Journalism student at the University of Stirling.

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