Universities need to go plant-based, and here’s why

Students at 20 UK unis are urging for a switch to fully plant-based catering by 2023

Sometimes, the most rational thing to do is to sh*t your pants. If you were not scared of falling rocks, deadly viruses, and even your next exam, your survival and prosperity chances would decrease drastically.

One thing that should at least give you nightmares is the present climate crisis: beautiful things like groundwater are running out, and more fires and storms or simply sea levels are literally sinking islands.

Unfortunately, the worst is yet to come if drastic measures are not taken. And while some countermeasures involve heavy changes in our lifestyle, others, such as transitioning to a plant-based diet, are rather simple.

According to leading scientists (yes, not just your local angry vegan group), drastically reducing our dairy and meat consumption by transitioning to plant-based foods can have a massive impact on countering the climate crisis – with side effects including benefits to health and animal welfare. And if you are still scared that a plant-based diet is too heavy of a lifestyle change, you should be sweating tears of anxiety thinking about which lifestyle changes the incoming climate catastrophe will cause you to endure. 

The point to take away? Countering the climate crisis is more comfortable than climate changes themselves.

This rational anxiety over the deteriorating climate and scientific backing for plant-based diets led students of 15 UK unis (with around five more in the pipeline) to push for fully plant-based uni kitchens by the 2023-24 academic year. As the Plant-based Universities campaign, we are happy to give uni administrations a lift on the road to reach the sustainability goals they’ve adopted in recent years.

Universities are a crucial institution in our democracy and bear responsibility for the outcomes and values they reflect. So, our campaign believes we need to address them (as institutions) rather than individuals to combat the climate crisis.

The campaign’s aim is not to blame individual students for what they consume but rather to push and assist unis as institutions in adopting necessary changes and allowing us to have a future worth studying for.

And many students have resonated with this aim: I have been part of the campaign at King’s College London (KCL), and we’ve just reached the required support from 50 students to become officially supported by the KCLSU. 

It is rational to be scared about the climate crisis, but the only feasible way of responding to this anxiety is by tackling its root – the crisis itself. 

Your fear of a fallen rock right above you is more than appropriate, but sitting down and contemplating about what could possibly be done by someone at some point, wondering whether the rock is real, or simply denying that you might be harmed by it falling on you is no long-term solution to your fear. Moving the rock to the side will eliminate the fear and spare you harm, and similarly, our fear of the climate crisis can only be met by taking measures against it. 

So, as our campaign believes that a crucially effective measure against climate change is the transformation into plant-based diets, we urge for unis to endorse this necessary step.

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