Rosie Lester with permission for Varsity

The SU voted last night (20/2) to support a campaign to remove all animal products from the menus of University Catering Services cafes. 

The motion was proposed by William Smith from the Plant-Based Universities (PBU) campaign, and calls for “sustainable and 100% plant-based” catering in response to the climate and biodiversity crises.

55% of the members of Student Council, including SU sabbatical officers, JCR representatives and campaign and school representatives, voted in favour of the motion after thirty minutes of debate.

The SU and PBU Cambridge will now enter into talks with the University Catering Service about the implementation of an 100% plant-based food system. The Catering Service runs five cafes across the university - including the ARC Cafe and the Buttery on Sidgwick site, and three cafes on West Cambridge site. 

The vote comes after the UCS implemented a Sustainable Food Policy in 2016, which eliminated the use of beef and lamb and pledged to promote the consumption of plant-based foods. 


Mountain View

Breakaway JCR group express concerns over SU voting system

William Smith from PBU Cambridge told Varsity that the campaign was “delighted” that the Cambridge SU passed the motion. He stressed the environmental impacts of animal agriculture, stating that, by removing all animal products from menus, the University could "showcase to the world its commitment to sustainability". 

He added: “The University Catering Services has already made important strides, for example in 2016 when it removed beef and lamb from all its menus. We look forward to working with the UCS on the vital next steps.”

Plant-Based Universities is a national campaign with active divisions running in more than 50 universities in the UK and internationally.

However, not all are in favour of the proposal. A student representative told Varsity: "In regard to the plant-based motion, there was significant feedback from our community; the majority of which was in opposition. The concerns centred around three main topics (ordered in most-voiced to least): freedom of lifestyle and ethical choice; food waste and comparative environmental impact of plant-based meat substitutes compared to non-ruminant meats and pesco-vegetarianism; and allergies and other medical concerns (specifically around heme-iron consumption)".