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Over 200 Dutch Academics Call For 100% Plant-Based University Catering As Plant-Based Universities Launches In The Netherlands

  • Today (5/2/24) students at several Dutch universities began campaigning for their institutions to transition to just and sustainable plant-based catering as a response to the climate and ecological crisis.

  • The students have been backed by more than 200 academics from universities across the Netherlands, who have added their names to an open letter that, now, has the signatures of over 1200 academics, healthcare professionals, politicians, and public figures [1] [2].

  • Amongst the Dutch signatories are Professor Pieter van ’t Veer, Chair of Nutrition, Public Health and Sustainability at Wageningen University and Marjan Minnesma, Director and Founder of Urgenda.

Amongst huge academic support, students at the University of Amsterdam, Radboud University, Tilburg University, Utrecht University, Hogeschool Utrecht and Wageningen University have begun calls for their universities to take decisive climate action and begin the transition to completely plant-based catering.

Sofie van Knippenberg, Plant-Based Universities campaigner at Wageningen University, said:

“We are proud to launch Plant-Based Universities across the Netherlands today and are overwhelmed at the stunning level of support we have already received. It’s inspiring to see so many people stepping up and working together to create a safe and sustainable food system.

The climate crisis urgently requires us all to be changemakers and transform this world into a better one;  we want to be a part of that. More than a quarter of the Netherlands is below sea level, and the extreme rainfall of last month once again demonstrated how incredibly vulnerable we are to the impacts of global warming. Now is the time to take bold and decisive steps to ensure a country for future generations.”

In 2023, the Health Council of the Netherlands advised that a shift towards plant-based eating is both better for the environment and public health [3]. 

Professor Pieter van ’t Veer, Chair of Nutrition, Public Health and Sustainability at Wageningen University, said:

“Eating habits must change substantially in order to address the urgent societal challenges of personal, public and planetary health. Universities should be frontrunners in the dietary transition and showcase the possibilities of providing nutritious and sustainable plant-based foods.”

With over half of the country’s agricultural emissions coming from animal farming, Plant-Based Universities aim to work with farmers to create a just transition away from animal farming and towards other production and effective climate mitigation strategies [4].

Nathan McGovern, Plant-Based Universities Co-Founder, said:

“We are delighted to see students across the Netherlands begin to raise their voices and call for their universities to begin moving their catering in the right direction. The benefits of a plant-based food system are well documented - from the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through to the carbon drawdown potential of rewilding.

We want to involve the Dutch farming community in this shift in a way that makes sure everyone wins; instead of freezing people out, we need to actively work together to make a sustainable food system a reality in the Netherlands and beyond.”

Plant-Based Universities, an Animal Rising campaign, is an international initiative of students who are pushing for their universities and student unions to adopt 100% plant-based catering [5]. 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 80 institutions, with the group encouraging interested students to sign up to run local campaigns.


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