A Sustainable Food Strategy to address the Climate Emergency:
The UN has stated that addressing the climate crisis will require bold and ambitious efforts now. Students care about their future and want to collaborate with the university to make sure that due action is taken to protect it. This idea makes the following case: UWE should embody its social and environmental commitments by transitioning towards affordable, healthy, and whole plant-based catering. We propose that university catering, procurement, and partnerships go 75% plant-based by September 2025, with a minimum annual increase of 10%, on the following grounds:
In 2020, UWE announced a Climate and Ecological Declaration with the aim to be climate neutral by 2030. This has been recognised in UWEs Sustainable Food Plan 2030 which states action plans such as an “ extension of vegetarian and vegan options and further reduction of meat and fish on offer”. As UWE’s catering is already over 51% plant-based, 75% is the next logical and easily achievable step.
Not vegan? That’s okay. We are not asking for individual dietary change. Students can still bring whatever food they like onto campus. It is also worth saying that we are not asking for a complete ban or boycott. We are simply asking for institutional divestment within procurement in the same way that universities are boycotting fossil fuel companies. Some of the most compelling research recommending a plant-based food system comes from leading research institutions.
Animal agriculture is responsible for at least 18% of global emissions. And carbon drawdown in the UK necessitates the restoration of our native forests. Should we transition to plant-based farming, the UK could free up 51% of its land. Plant based food, being halal and kosher, is also inclusive of all faiths and all religions, and nutritionally sound, meaning such a transition would be at no detriment to any particular group. This knowledge should be represented by our student union and university, setting an example, and inspiring students to think critically and act in alignment with their values on environmental justice.
In light of the emerging climate science, and UWE’s social and sustainability commitments, we want UWE to state objective metrics, and commit to an achievable, self-determined road map on how this transition will unfold. Let’s end the climate emergency and make UWE a truly just and sustainable institution.