Plant-Based Universities is an Animal Rising campaign that began in late 2021, calling on universities to transition to 100% just and sustainable plant-based catering to tackle the climate and nature crises.
Since its inception, this student-led campaign has achieved landmark votes for fully plant-based transitions at nine universities internationally (eight in the UK), including the Universities of Cambridge and Stirling.
We currently have active campaigns in over 70 universities both in the UK and abroad, all run by student teams on their campuses, and expect to grow to 100 campaigns before the end of the 2023-24 academic year.
Why target unis?
Universities have significant cultural capital, and their actions have a great influence over the broader ethical views and sustainable practices in society.
They educate the leaders of our future and are the very institutions where much of our research and understanding of the climate crisis emerges.
Currently, universities act to legitimise the industries of animal agriculture and fishing, and this needs to change.
If we can make universities adopt fully plant-based menus, we set an example to the government and other institutions on how to genuinely act on the climate and ecological emergencies. See the press section of our website for an inventory of our successes across international campuses so far.
The student population are statistically the most likely demographic to be supportive of plant-based food for environmental reasons, and there is also a long history and tradition of student activism and radicalism. Just like universities were among the first institutions to divest from fossil fuels, they can be the first to divest from animal agriculture.
Why ask for 100% plant-based food?
In 2018, Doctors Joseph Poore and Thomas Nemecek collaborated to produce a meta-analysis of around 38,000 farms across the globe: 'Reducing food's environmental impacts through producers and consumers'. Their findings showed that, beyond all reasonable doubt, the production of animal products is causing untold damage to our climate.
A more recent Harvard study, 'Eating away at climate change with negative emissions', has proven that a plant-based food system will produce more food, with fewer emissions, whilst also increasing carbon drawdown. It can free up 76% of global farmland, much of which can be rewilded, restoring our precious wildlife and saving thousands of animals.
The campaign aims to reframe the mainstream environmental debate so that a fully plant-based food system can be celebrated as a key solution to the climate and nature emergencies. We are not demanding a ban on animal products from campuses, but rather that our universities divest from these industries at their outlets just as they have fossil fuels. We are advocating for our academic institutions to act in alignment with the best interests of future generations now.