(Updated December 11, 2019) | The University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich, England, is the latest university to ban beef for climate change reasons.
UEA’s student-elected Union Council passed a motion to ban the sale of beef on campus. Officers from the UEA Students’ Union make up the Union Council. This includes representatives from every course, club, and society.
Venues operated by the Students’ Union — including the UEA shop, the Hive Cafe, and the university bar — will no longer serve beef. The Students’ Union will also urge the restaurants run by the university to ban beef.
Environmental reasons motivated the decision. The students stated that beef requires 28 times more land to produce than chicken or pork. Animal agriculture also generates huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, making up around 22 percent of the world’s total emissions.
UEA has been steadily introducing more vegan and vegetarian options. A growing bank of research is finding that plant-based foods have a drastically smaller impact on the planet.
Last year, the world’s most comprehensive analysis of farming’s impact on the environment concluded that going vegan is the “single biggest” thing an individual can do to help fight climate change. Researchers from Oxford University analyzed data from around 40,000 farms in 119 countries. They focused on the 40 food items that account for 90 percent of all of food consumed. Lead researcher Joseph Poore said to the Guardian that adopting a vegan diet is “the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use, and water use.”
Universities Ditching Meat
UEA is not the first learning institute to recognize the harmful impact of beef on the planet. Goldsmiths, University of London announced in August that it was removing beef from its campus shops and cafes. The move is part of its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2025.
Cambridge University has not served beef or lamb since 2016, instead “promoting the consumption of more vegetarian and vegan foods.” The switch helped it to lower its carbon emissions by 33 percent per kilogram of food.
Less than one month after UAE announced the ban, beef is back on the menu due to student backlash despite concluding that it is a “critical contributor to climate change.”