The Countryside Alliance has criticised an illogical decision by Sheffield University to wipe red meat items from the menu of its catering services.
In an extraordinary statement, that has since been edited, Sheffield University proclaimed: 'We have, therefore, decided to take beef and lamb products out of our University outlets and catering. Now we are looking at the burgers sold at University pubs as our next step to say that we are completely beef and lamb free.'
A copy of the original statement
The controversial step is designed to ‘ limit their impact on the environment’ and it is currently not known whether this was a decision agreed on by students, or imposed on them without a say.
However, the statement goes even further, claiming that the University will be working with the Psychology Department 'to look at the most effective ways of changing behaviour.'
Interestingly, the statement goes on to discuss their policy on dairy, claiming: they 'are determined to limit our emissions from our milk' and as such, will be sourcing milk from a local dairy business based just 4 miles outside Sheffield. An honorable solution yes, but it does leave the University open to accusations of double standards, if this is not extended to all red meat purchases too.
The Alliance argues that any attempt to remove red meat would completely ignore the ambitious efforts being put in by UK farmers to achieve net zero emissions by 2040. Such a move demonstrates the University make no differentiation between the industrial farming systems in countries like the US and Brazil and the mainly grass-fed systems in Britain. The University are failing their staff and students by not explaining the benefits of sourcing local grass reared meat with high welfare standards and a low carbon footprint.
The removal of red meat items from the menu, follows similar moves taken at both Goldsmiths and Cambridge University, which saw burgers banned on campus. Cambridge University was accused of hypocrisy when information obtained by an FOI request, submitted by the Countryside Alliance, found staff taking 17,545 flights since the introduction of the beef ban; dwarfing any alleged savings in Co2 emissions. Students at the University of Edinburgh and University of East Anglia overturned similar bans in votes of the wider student body, as did Bristol.
One Sheffield student, who says she was raised on a farm and understands 'the benefits of beef and lamb' for the UK, has already taken to outlining her frustration with the decision in a written letter of complaint.
In a bizarre twist of events, a University spokesperson confirmed the website was inaccurate. The spokesman said: “The University has not banned the sale of beef and lamb products. Recognising that mass-produced beef and lamb can be particularly environmentally damaging, over a year ago we decided we would no longer sell pre-packaged beef and lamb sandwiches in our outlets. However, we serve beef burgers and pies in our University-operated pub made from meat sourced from a local butcher.”
UPDATE: At around 18:40pm, the website was changed to now state: "As consumers, Sheffield staff and students are keen to limit their impact upon the environment. Recognising that mass-produced beef and lamb can be particularly environmentally damaging, in 2019 we decided we would no longer sell pre-packaged beef and lamb sandwiches in our outlets. However, we serve beef burgers and pies in our University-operated pub made from meat sourced from a local butcher. "
We consider this a u-turn, but questions still remain about the future of burgers at their pubs.
The spokesman added: "We are always looking at ways to reduce the impact of our food operations in a way that balances environmental, economic and social factors. Our food policies are part of our ongoing sustainability journey in consultation with our staff and students. This includes harnessing our academic expertise to identify high-impact items and working with local suppliers wherever possible to reduce the carbon impact of the foods we sell, while being mindful of affordability for our customers.”