May Balls are notoriously elaborate affairs with expansive budgetsPHOTO BY JONANAMARY ON FLICKR

Darwin College will hold the first May Ball to only serve vegan food in the almost 200 year history of May Week.

The May Ball’s website says that it “intends to cater for as many dietary requirements as possible and will serve only plant based food”. Organisers of the fancy black tie event, where entry this year will cost north of £150, agreed unanimously to the plant-based move.

A representative for The Orient Express themed evening told Varsity: “We decided that we would make this commitment if and only if we knew we could provide plant-based options that are as good or better than what people would expect at normal May Balls”.

Beginning in the 1830s, May Balls are extravagant parties held by Cambridge Colleges to celebrate the end of the academic year. With budgets reaching in the hundred of thousands of pounds, no expense is spared by Colleges and May Ball committees to spoil their guests. Sigala, Charli XCX and Mumford & Sons have all headlined recent May Balls.


Mountain View

SU votes to support University meat ban

Not everyone has welcomed Darwin’s decision to swap steaks and salmon for quinoa and salad. The committee member conceded that he had experienced “a bit of pushback” to the vegan-only offering, explaining that “people are obviously used to our May Balls having great food” and “were worried this would sacrifice that”. But these worries have reportedly subsided to emotions of “excitement, anticipation and curiosity”.

Locally sourced produce will also be a priority. Food and drink will be supplied by providers around Cambridge, though “food vendors have not been finalised”.

Darwin’s commitment to a vegan menu follows the Student Union’s (SU) motion to ban all animal products from the University’s canteens and cafés. More than half of Student Council members supported the initial proposal put forward by Plant-Based Universities Cambridge, an organisation with links to Extinction Rebellion. A subsequent vote to overturn the motion failed to pass. The University Catering Service had already stopped serving any beef and lamb in 2016.

Darwin May Ball will be held on 23 June.