Oxford students vote to ban beef and lamb, stir controversy

Members of the Oxford Student Union have caused a bit of an uproar after voting to ban beef and lamb from the university’s canteens and events, the university’s student paper Cherwell reports.

On Nov. 13, the paper reported that members of the student council passed the motion by a two-thirds majority, citing environmental concerns and requesting a meeting with university officials. The motion does not cover all facilities at the campus, some of which have their own menus and policies.

“As the UK’s premier university, the nation looks to Oxford for leadership, but Oxford has shown a lack of leadership in addressing climate change,” the motion notes. “The banning of beef and lamb at university-catered events and outlets is a feasible and effective strategy to help the university meet its revised 2030 goal. A change at the university level will open the gates for similar change at the college level.”

Proposed by students Vihan Jain, Daniel Grimmer and Agatha Edevane, the motion encourages more access to vegetables, fruits and legumes and less intake of beef. It also argues that banning beef and lamb is part of the university’s fight against racism.

“The worst effects of human activity related climate change are felt by Black and Brown peoples in the Global South, with women and disabled peoples being disproportionately affected,” the motion reads. “The University has a duty to [minimize] its participation in human activity related climate change.”

Still, not everybody has been on board with the vote. At least one student at the student council meeting argued that the motion would “either restrict what students are eating, or allow students to buy food elsewhere, which would decrease usage of University catering services.” Another student suggested a reduction rather than a ban on beef and lamb.

Cherwell notes that a previous attempt to ban beef from Oxford’s canteens did not pass after students failed to show up for a required quorum. The most current comes after the University of Cambridge and Goldsmiths University removed beef from all their menus in 2019.

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