Students of Oxford University in the UK have voted to ban beef and lamb at catering outlets with the aim of reducing greenhouse emissions.
The Oxford Student Union passed a motion by a two-thirds majority at the weekly student council. Two-thirds of voters were needed to back the motion for a ban on beef and lamb in university catering services. Now, the union executives will lobby bosses to bring in the beef ban on the university campus.
The ban would affect university-operated catering outlets and university-organised events, but not food served in college halls or cafes.
The Oxford student union might convene a meeting with the authorities to advocate for the adoption of university policy regarding meat reduction and removal, especially lamb and beef.
The students behind the motion hope that it will help reduce Oxford University's greenhouse emissions after the university admitted that it has missed its 2021 carbon emissions goal.
An Oxford student in favour of the ban said: "Substituting beef and lamb produce is probably the single most impactful change the authorities can encourage in behaviour at the university to reduce our collective impact on climate change".
However, people critical of the motion said: "There are many ways that individuals may choose to decrease their carbon footprint and to enforce this particular lifestyle choice is unjustified. The Student Union should not dictate what can and cannot be eaten by students and guests using the university catering facilities. Dietary preferences should remain a matter of personal choice".
Another critic said, "Direct bans are in themselves difficult to communicate, because they hit a certain section of society particularly hard, like farmers, but other parts of society much less so. Bans always give rise to a very strong sense of injustice. Although they are not wrong in fact, as they could make a major contribution to climate protection, I do not think that they are the right way forward".
Responding to criticisms that the beef and lamb ban could affect the local economy, a student stated that "alternative food offerings can be sourced from local enterprises and can therefore contribute to the local economy, but 'eat local' can be a deceptive piece of advice".
An increasing number of universities in the UK are promoting veganism amid growing concerns about the environmental impact of the meat industry.
Last year, Cambridge University, University of London, and Goldsmiths removed beef from their menus.
According to the Oxford Student Union, Cambridge reported a 33 per cent reduction in carbon emissions per kilogram of food purchased.
A PA News Agency's data showed that a total of 44 universities (31 per cent) in the UK have established dedicated vegetarian or vegan cafes or other food outlets, while 18 others have partially done so or are planning to in the near future.
Similar votes against the beef ban were made at Edinburgh, London School of Economics, and the University of East Anglia, though it was overturned at the latter following a revolt.
(Edited by: Mansi Jaswal)