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Edinburgh University Students Vote Against Motion to Introduce Plant-Based Menus in EUSA Venues

  • On 03/04/23, Edinburgh University students voted against a motion calling for Student Association venues to go plant-based by 2027.

  • This vote was put forth by Plant-Based Universities (PBU) Edinburgh campaigners, and aimed to take decisive action against climate change through a just and sustainable transition to plant-based catering. The PBU campaign was not only pushing for locally sourced ingredients where possible and carbon footprint calculations on food but also an increased choice for those with dietary requirements [1].

  • Nonetheless, this motion received push-back from the hunting lobby group Countryside Alliance, who asked in an article in The Times, "How can an avocado flown in from South America have eco superiority over a piece of grass-fed beef from a local farm?" [2]

  • This conflicts with research evidencing that food type is much more significant than transport in climate footprint calculations, a key recommendation of such research being to reduce meat and dairy [3].

Emily Kemp, 19, Plant-Based Universities Edinburgh campaigner said:
"This is a setback in our strive for climate justice, but not one we will allow to stop us. Going plant-based is a step that must be taken; it is only a shame that it will not happen sooner.
If Edinburgh's students are so far unconvinced that animal farming and fishing is wrecking our planet and would rather take the words of those with a vested interest in concealing the truth, then we will continue to work to change that."

The latest IPCC report has highlighted the need for efficient use of land to tackle the climate and ecological crisis [4]. This would prevent deforestation and allow rewilding to occur, drawing down vast amounts of carbon from the Earth’s atmosphere. According to a 2019 Harvard study, animal farming is the single biggest land user in the UK. The same study stated that better use of this land could make the UK carbon-negative [5].

The proposed motion was an effort to make progress on EUSA's Sustainability and Action Plan, and was also intended to provide more inclusive and affordable options for all students amid the ongoing cost of living crisis. The campaigners express how the conversation Edinburgh’s campaign has sparked is a success in itself.

Among the numerous passed motions for plant-based campuses, including those at Stirling, Cambridge, Queen Mary University of London, and Birmingham [6], Edinburgh’s campaign demonstrates how this conversation about animal agriculture and the climate crisis is still considered radical. The science promoting a plant-based food system is compelling, and our institutions need to follow suit, the student-led campaign advocates.

The Plant-Based Universities campaign is a nationwide initiative of students who are pushing for their universities and student unions to adopt 100% plant-based catering [7]. The group claims that universities have an obligation to follow the scientific research that they produce, detailing the environmental impacts of animal farming and fishing. The campaign is active in over 40 institutions, with the group encouraging interested students to sign up to run local campaigns.

The Plant-Based Universities campaign is supported by the well-known animal and climate justice group Animal Rising.


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All photos in this release, our social media, or website can be freely used with credit to Plant-Based Universities

For interviews or further comment please contact:

Nathan: 07466114387

Notes To Editors:


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