I’m not forcing you to be vegetarian, but the #NoBeef movement makes a lot of sense

Sacrificing the odd beef burger could make more difference than you think

Ask any meat-eater why they’re not a vegetarian and you’re guaranteed the same responses time after time: ‘I just like the taste of meat’ or ‘it’s the big corporations that need to change, I won’t make a difference’ seem to be stock phrases in any carnivore’s defense. But don’t worry, this isn’t going to be one of those preaching, self-entitled rants about the personal difference I’m making to the world. It’s simply a display of facts – if you want the world to live for more than another 50 years, some changes need to be made.

Now although I do think vegetarianism is an easy way to cut carbon footprints, reduce environmental implications and save the piggies from the slaughterhouse, I understand that it’s not possible for everyone – there are, of course, exceptions. But when it comes to the sale of beef and lamb on campus, there are simply no plausible counterarguments.

#NoBeef doesn’t mean you can’t eat beef

The #NoBeef campaign has been circling the country, with universities like Cambridge and Goldsmiths leading the way in removing beef and lamb products from their campus menus. No, they’re not banning all meat products or forcing vegetarianism on their students, and they’re not saying students can’t buy and cook beef in their own kitchens – it will still be available at Co-op. They’re simply saying that the campus bars and cafes will no longer serve beef or lamb, and instead will serve an alternative like chicken or pork.

The environmental result of this? Per person per year, 50,000 litres of water, 1,300 square metres of land and 2.2 tonnes of CO2 equivalents saved. Per person. Let those stats sink in.

credit: @nobeefsussex

When the University of Sussex declared a climate emergency in August 2019, Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell pledged to take “the urgent action needed to address the daunting challenge of global climate change … we know that, in declaring a climate emergency, our students and supporters will hold us to account for our own actions. We welcome that scrutiny and will continue to take steps wherever we can to stand by our words”.

Well, Adam, this is us holding you accountable and calling you out. Take a stand. Take those steps.

Brighton is meant to be a green city

If anywhere were to support this campaign, surely it should be Brighton, with its infamous politically and socially charged students and, lest we forget, the one Green Party parliamentary seat in the UK. Brighton prides itself on being a liberal, open minded and forward-thinking city – so why can’t students get their heads around this? Angry commenters on SussFession posts responded with “let me kill whoever the fuck I want on campus ty” and “you’re just a fascist”. Sorry to break it to you, angry SussFessioner, but it’s back to the library you go – vegetarianism does not equal fascism.

As much as we all love the cafes in the Lanes with their plethora of vegan options, your activism becomes rather performative if you don’t take a stand on this. Reducing beef and lamb consumption goes so much further than Brighton, further than the UK. Cattle grazing is the biggest cause of Amazon deforestation and the greatest use of the world’s fresh water, as well as being the greatest producers of methane, a gas 86 times more potent than carbon. It’s a simple correlation – less beef, healthier world.

Most importantly, whether it’s a yes or a no, VOTE

The referendum needs a turnout of 10 per cent for the motions to even be considered, surely an easy feat for such a proactive uni. Well, think again, because last referendum the Sussex voting turnout was 8.5 per cent. 8.5. Sussex students, do better – it literally takes two minutes and could make all the difference. Whether you’ve been convinced to vote yes to no beef, or even if you still want to vote no, please please PLEASE just vote.

Voting is open online from December 2nd to December 7th and you can find out more here.

The full campaign for #NoBeefSussex can be found here.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

Sussex students launch campaign to remove beef and lamb from campus menus

Brighton has won the first gold Sustainable Food City award

Brighton has been named as the best city for vegans in the UK