Newcastle students vote towards fully plant-based catering on campus with 89 per cent majority

The motion will see an eventual transition to 100 per cent plant-based catering


Newcastle University students have voted for a motion in favour of plant-based catering, which will see food at ticketed events be 50 per cent plant-based, with all other events moving towards 100 per cent where possible.

This shift is part of the Plant-Based Universities campaign, a student-led campaign by activist group Animal Rising. Established in 2021, it’s aim is for all university catering facilities to transition 100 per cent of their menus to plant-based. The Students’ Union has also committed to working alongside Plant-Based Universities, to lobby the whole university to make steps towards complete plant-based catering.

The motion was backed by societies across the Students’ Union. The Labour, Feminist and Geography societies were among those who endorsed the motion prior to the student council vote.

Newcastle University stated that all campus venues and events which provide catering already offer daily plant-based options, but the university “looks forward to working with the student body to further promote sustainable living.”

Campaigners point to research from Oxford University which suggests that global farmland could be reduced by 76 per cent if the world adopted a plant-based food system, freeing up land for rewilding and habitat restoration for endangered species. This also would allow huge amounts of carbon to be drawn down from the atmosphere.

This is the organisation’s 11th win, with Newcastle University Students’ Union joining others including Cambridge, Birmingham and Exeter. Edinburgh, York and Cardiff are among the universities to have rejected proposals.

The motion has not come without some opposition by students. Newcastle University Against Plant Based has been set up by students who criticise the decision.

Ella Spray, coordinator of Plant-Based Universities Newcastle, spoke about how this motion is evidence of Newcastle students’ efforts to be more climate conscious. She said: “We are in a climate emergency and the university must take responsibility for its role in mitigating climate change. Climate anxiety is at an all-time high and this motion gives students a chance to show the university that they want decisive action to be taken to sustainability.

“We are excited about working with the Students’ Union and the wider student community to make these changes work for everyone. We hope to be part of creating menus that are, not only, sustainable but are also cheap, nutritious, and delicious.”

Will Holmes, former President of the Newcastle University Vegan Society, added how the campaign doesn’t take away from students’ individual dietary decisions: “Regardless of your personal dietary choices, supporting this motion is a recognition of our collective responsibility to address the climate crisis. This is our opportunity to lead by example, to prioritise the health of our planet and to inspire others to follow suit on both an individual and institutional level.”

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