University bans beef to fight climate change
Beef has been taken off the menu at a university as part of its efforts to fight climate change. From next month, Goldsmiths, University of London will remove all beef products from its shops and cafés. Prof Frances Corner, the college warden, said that “declaring a climate emergency cannot be empty words”. Students will also face a 10p levy on bottles of water and single-use plastic cups as part of a drive by the university to become carbon neutral by 2025.
THEY were once regarded as staples of the students’ canteen, but now burgers, lasagne, chilli and tacos have been taken off the menu at a university that has banned beef as part of its efforts to fight climate change.
From next month, Goldsmiths, University of London has said it will remove all beef products from its shops and cafés. Students will also face a 10p levy on bottles of water and single-use plastic cups when the academic year starts to discourage use of the products.
It is part of a drive by the university to become carbon neutral by 2025, which involves installing solar panels and switching to a “clean” energy supplier. Academic courses will also be reviewed to give students more opportunities to study climate change.
Prof Frances Corner, the warden of Goldsmiths, said “declaring a climate emergency cannot be empty words”.
The beef ban is the first announcement she has made since taking over as the head of the university this month.
Prof Corner, who used to be head of the London College of Fashion, has championed ethical designs and describes herself as a “fashion activist”.
She has previously warned of the dangers of wearing fake fur, arguing that it makes wearing real fur “culturally acceptable”.
Prof Corner said: “The growing call for organisations to take seriously their responsibilities for halting climate change is impossible to ignore. Though I have only just arrived, it is immediately obvious that our staff and students care passionately about … our environment and that they are determined to help deliver the change we need.” The beef ban was praised by activists but elsewhere it was criticised as “an overly simplistic approach”.
Stuart Roberts, vice-president of the National Farmers’ Union, said there was a “lack of understanding or recognition between British beef and beef produced elsewhere”.
He said the union has been encouraging public institutions, such as universities, to back British farming and source locally produced food.
“Tackling climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time but singling out one food product is clearly an overly simplistic approach,” he said.
“Our standards of beef production are among the most efficient in the world, with livestock grazing in extensive, grass-based systems, meaning a greenhouse gas footprint two and a half times smaller than the global average.
“Anyone wanting to play their part in helping our planet should buy British, locally produced beef, reared to some of the world’s highest and environmentally sustainable standards.”
Goldsmiths is the latest university to alter its menu in an attempt to cut its carbon footprint. Cambridge University’s catering services have not served any beef or lamb since 2016 and are “promoting the consumption of more vegetarian and vegan foods”, though meat is still served by colleges.
Meanwhile, Ulster University, the University of East Anglia and a number of colleges at Oxford and Cambridge have introduced “meat-free Mondays”. Dave Gorman, director of sustainability at Edinburgh University, said 40 per cent of the options in campus cafes were vegetarian or vegan and they aimed to increase this to 50 per cent.
Westminster University has a “part-time carnivore loyalty card”, whereby students who have purchased four vegetarian meals in the canteen get their fifth vegetarian meal for free.
Under Prof Frances Corner, Goldsmiths University will no longer serve any beef products in its shops and cafes