A report on UWE Bristol’s red meat intake by Curzio Potenza, Sustainability Officer at The Students’ Union at UWE.
An emerging culture
The climate and society are changing, with the UN warning that there are just 12 years to limit climate change.. It has been suggested that changes in food production and our diets, can have a significant impact on climate change and specifically our red meat consumption.
In recent years veganism and vegetarianism has continued to grow, both across the globe and in Bristol, which was found to be the most popular city for veganism in 2018. Universities have the chance to make changes to the food on offer to students and adapt to the changing world. Some universities have gone as far as removing beef options on campuses. So should UWE Bristol and The Students’ Union do the same? To find out your opinion, a survey was conducted to find out what the student population here at UWE Bristol thought.
231 students and staff were surveyed over a Monday lunchtime in December about their attitudes and habits around their beef consumption. Here’s what we found.
1 in 3 surveyed never buy meals with beef, and 2 in 10 only eat it monthly.
8 of 10 would still eat at The SU Bar/Onezone if beef was not on the menu.
1 in 4 are not aware of the impact Beef has on the environment.
Results indicated a good opportunity for a shift away from beef. The survey suggested that there is already a section of the university population that has a low intake and are open to not seeing beef on the menu. Although there could be opposition to removing beef from campus, there would be many local and global positive outcomes, which could outweigh the opposition.
While completely excluding meat may work for some it does not work for everyone, which is why it is recommended that only the worst offenders are excluded; beef and lamb. By maintaining a variety of choice of other, lower-impact meats such as chicken, and substituting red meat with any of the many substitutes, everyone can be kept happy.
In the long-term, the question is not about meat or no meat, but about production qualities; local, organic, pasture-fed, free-range, etc. A truly sustainable menu should not feature just meat substitutes, but quality meat which is raised sustainably. This will likely come at a higher price in the short term, but if no-one supports the quality producers, price won’t change.
By making bold changes, you will be working as part of a bigger consumerism shift and will be helping to change habits, raise awareness and project new values among the student community in a positive way. UWE Bristol’s 2030 strategy includes the 2030 net-zero emissions target, alongside supporting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and the menu provided onsite is elementary in continuing to make big positive impacts.
Everyone has the chance to make a change and no matter how big or small are you will be having a positive impact on the planet.