A completely plant-based Warwick is not the way to go
Thoughts from a verified vegan
The results from the Spring All Student Vote are out… and it’s not looking good for Warwick’s plant-based community.
A motion was proposed to “remove most meat, fish, dairy, eggs and other animal-based products from Student Union outlets” because of the tremendous impact of food containing animal products on the environment. The motion document stated the SU already has an “ethical eats ethos” but this isn’t being promoted because of the large number of animal products on sale in its outlets.
However, rather embarrassingly, this was the only motion to fail in this series of the ASV, with 58 per cent of the students surveyed voting against it. And honestly, I’m not surprised.
I completely understand and advocate for a plant-based diet- I mean, I’ve adopted it myself. I’m a proud vegan of almost three years, and I love preaching the vegan agenda to my friends, many of whom I’ve successfully converted to swapping out meat and dairy products for plant-based alternatives. I’ve even started my own vegan food blog.
Not only is a plant-based diet better for the animals and the planet, it is also generally healthier for us humans too. Plus, the moral superiority you feel as a vegan is top-notch. However, promoting a completely plant-based campus is not the way forward and it is completely unrealistic.
Firstly, removing nearly all animal-based products from SU outlets is too far. As much as I would love to see a completely plant-based world, consumers still need to be able to make the choice for themselves. And it would be incredibly costly for the SU to replace nearly every single product it sells with a vegan alternative. Shoving veganism down people’s throats (literally) will just cause the SU to lose way more money than it will make.
We shouldn’t go completely plant-based but the SU definitely needs better vegan options. God knows I’m sick and tired of those dry falafel and hummus wraps from Rootes. And Bread Oven. And Curiositea. And literally everywhere else. If the motion had focused on implementing more plant-based options, rather than removing most animal-based products, then perhaps the motion wouldn’t have failed.
What would be better suited for Warwick, in my opinion, is an entirely plant-based outlet. Having a greater variety of vegan options that aren’t just boring veggie wraps is more likely to convince people to adopt a plant-based diet, or at least make healthier and environmentally-friendly swaps to their diet. A vegan cafe would widen the plant-based options for those who already have this diet and show others eating plant-based doesn’t have to be plain and boring. Just see my vegan account for proof!
A fully vegan cafe will encourage people to at least try plant-based food, and if there’s a new spot on campus, everyone will want to go there to try it out at least once. We could use the new Faculty of Arts Cafe to create a veggie and vegan outlet- because let’s be real, most FAB students give off vegan vibes. I mean, it’s the arts!
So many groups of people will benefit from a plant-based outlet- not just the vegans! Those who follow dietary requirements because of their faith, such as Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims and Jews, also stand to benefit. A Muslim friend of mine often eats vegan when she goes out due to fears of cross-contamination with non-Halal meat products. Plant-based food is also accessible to most people with dietary restrictions, like those who are lactose intolerant. Warwick needs a more accessible and cheap plant-based alternative as it is literally one of the least restrictive diets and most people can eat it.
Many universities around the UK have already adopted this approach, so Warwick really ought to catch up. The University of Aberdeen, for example, has Roots – a veggie and vegan cafe. Similarly, Imperial College London also has a completely vegetarian and vegan cafe called Plantworks with other plant-based options around their campus. And LSE has not just one, but TWO vegan cafes!
This is what Warwick needs!!
Admittedly, Warwick has become better at providing more vegan options this past year. Rootes has a vegan sausage roll and it has introduced both plant-based chicken and steak bakes- they are way pricier than Greggs but beggars can’t be choosers sadly.
However, this really isn’t enough. If other unis around the UK can sell 50 per cent plant-based food, Warwick can too. Expecting the whole SU to go plant-based is just too radical and unrealistic. Maybe in the future, we can expect to see a plant-based campus but right now Warwick needs to transition into that with a vegan cafe.