by Countryside Alliance

Oxford University students have voted to ban beef and lamb at campus canteens.

The Oxford University Student Union passed a motion by a two-thirds majority at the weekly student council, though the union does not have the power to change university policy.

Student union bosses will now push to implement the meat ban at eateries on campus, such as in libraries. The university colleges however, where students reside and have tutorials, would each have to decide whether to introduce a similar ban separately.

Mo Metcalf-Fisher of the Countryside Alliance said: 'British farmers produce some of the finest red meat products in the world, while complying with the highest ethical and environmental standards. No one should be denied the right to choose what food they wish to eat. Those behind this motion at the Oxford University Student Union have displayed a complete lack of appreciation for our world class standards by pushing for this draconian ban. Students expect lectures in academia, not the diet they follow. Pushing to reduce carbon is laudable but this is entirely the wrong approach. Committing to purchasing local, sustainable red meat with a low mileage, is the best way of protecting the environment and freedom of choice. Let's hope the colleges see sense and continue to allow their students to consume their diets of choice, free of regulation.' 

A spokesman for the Oxford Students' Union, said: 'I welcome the mandate to engage the university on this important issue. It is important to recognise that food-based changes may not be possible for every student or staff member at the university. Further, food-based changes are just one part of changes we'd like to see the university make to tackle the climate crisis.”

Similar votes were also made in favour of such a decision at Edinburgh and the University of East Anglia, though it was overturned at the latter following a revolt by the wider student body. A motion to ban meat at the University of Bristol was also voted down by students, in the first instance. 

Cambridge University stopped the sale of beef in 2016, claiming that a reduction in consumption can help to reduce the carbon footprint. However a Freedom of Information Request by the Countryside Alliance revealed hypocrisy, as the university had spent millions of pounds on over 17,000 flights in 3.5 years, the same length of time it had implemented a red meat ban citing a need to lower carbon emissions. In response, the Countryside Alliance and British farmers organised a letter to the university’s vice chancellor, which called on the ban to be reversed in favour of purchasing sustainable, red meat from local farmers.

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