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Friday, December 04, 2020

Oxford student union votes to ban beef on campus to reduce carbon footprint

The motion, which was co-authored by an Indian-origin student named Vihan Jain, stated that the Union should “request fortnightly meetings with the university authorities to advocate for the adoption of a university policy surrounding meat reduction and removal.”

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | November 18, 2020 7:47:57 pm
Oxford University beef banThe motion stated that the Union should “request fortnightly meetings with the university authorities to advocate for the adoption of a university policy surrounding meat reduction and removal.” (Photo credit: University of Oxford)

The students of Oxford University in the UK have voted to ban beef and lamb in all on-campus canteens in a bid to tackle climate change by reducing green house emissions. The ban is likely to cover university-run catering outlets and events, but does not include the food served in individual college’s halls and cafes, the Daily Mail reported.

While the students union managed to pass the motion by a two-thirds majority at the recent weekly student council, the union executives will still have to lobby to amend the university’s policy and formally impose the ban across the campus.

The motion, which was co-authored by an Indian-origin student named Vihan Jain, stated that the Union should “request fortnightly meetings with the university authorities to advocate for the adoption of a university policy surrounding meat reduction and removal.”

The student body’s demands to ban beef and lamb gained momentum after the university admitted that it had failed to meet its 2021 carbon emission goals, the university’s official newspaper The Oxford Student reported.

“The banning of beef and lamb at university-catered events and outlets is a feasible and effective strategy to help the university meet its revised 2030 goal,” the motion adds. “As the UK’s premier university, the nation looks to Oxford for leadership, but Oxford has shown a lack of leadership in addressing climate change.”

“Substituting beef and lamb produce is probably the single most impactful change the authorities can encourage in behaviour at the university to reduce our collective impact on climate change,” Agatha Edevane, one of the co-writers of the motion, told The Oxford Student. “I hope that Oxford can join other thought-leaders in influencing through this important change and demonstrate that tackling climate change is something we are all involved in.”

She suggested that alternate food offerings can be sourced from local enterprises and can thus also contribute to the local economy. However, the motion has also met with severe backlash from some sections of the student body who believe that dictating food choices is an unjustifiable way of reducing the university’s carbon footprint.

“The Student Union should not dictate what can and cannot be eaten by students and guests using the university catering facilities. Dietary preferences should remain a matter of personal choice,” Caleb van Ryneveld, a returning student union official, told The Oxford Student.

Beef bans have been previously introduced in several universities in the United Kingdom, including Goldsmiths, University of London and Cambridge University.

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