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All around the United Kingdom, universities have been responding to the ongoing climate change emergency in multiple ways. Most notably by reducing the meat consumption and production on campus.
The University of Cambridge has banned beef from its campus dining outlets since 2016 and has subsequently reduced its carbon footprint by 10.5%. Goldsmiths, University of London similarly aims to become carbon neutral by 2025.
Producing and transporting the food we eat adds significantly to the growing environmental issue. It accounts for nearly 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions. It is also a leading contributor to deforestation, land, and water pollution and biodiversity loss.
Worldwide, scientists agree that beef and sheep livestock produce the highest number of greenhouse gases.
Climate change researchers have deduced that beef is more damaging to the environment as cows produce methane gas and require more land and water than other livestock.
As glaciers retreat, sea levels rise, and extreme weather events occur more frequently, the need for immediate action is severe. To do this, scientists argue that the number of sheep and cattle livestock should be reduced nationwide.
Cambridge has also looked towards reducing the number of dairy products consumed on campus, alongside the expenditure made daily on single-use plastics.
Goldsmiths, University of London is also removing beef products on its campus in efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. Currently, the university emits around 3.7 million kilograms of carbon each year but is looking to become carbon neutral by 2025.
Apart from reducing meat products on campus, Goldsmiths is also charging a 10p levy on plastic bottles and other plastic products to discourage students from purchasing them.
The University of Kent’s role in tackling this global issue is no less praiseworthy. Global non-profit organisation People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) commends Kent on its vegan friendliness throughout campus, offering it a spot on the ‘20 Most Vegan-Friendly Universities’ list.
PETA Director, Elisa Allen, says: “Students in the UK are going vegan in huge numbers, and it’s great to see universities joining the revolution. PETA commends the University of Kent for offering healthy and delicious vegan food options that everyone can enjoy.”
Student opinions on this issue vary. Some students say that red meat should be sold on campus purely because of student favourability of red meat. Others suggest that the University should look towards increasing renewable energy sources used on campus to power the accommodation buildings.
Something as simple as energy-saving light-bulbs in the library should be considered a “top priority for reducing environmental damage – not reducing beef consumption”, one student told us.
The introduction of reduced meat consumption falls into line with Kent’s Estates Department ‘Carbon Management Plan’.
Kent Hospitality has increased the number of vegan main dishes available on campus.
The Director of Estates, Peter Czarnomski, stated in 2018: “We support the commitment of the University to be a low carbon organisation and to reach our target to reduce our carbon emissions by 23% by 2020 against our 2005 consumption.”