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University promotes vegetarian options on campus

The University is encouraging the uptake of vegan and vegetarian meals

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Image Credit: Monti Cello

Vegetarian options in campus cafeterias are being encouraged by the University in tandem with the rise of eco-consciousness and environmental sustainability globally. The switch to veganism is becoming a growing trend, with the diet being promoted as a way to tackle climate change.

In cafeterias, catered students have the option of choosing from vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and meat options, with some healthier alternatives being encouraged with a ‘thumbs up’ sign next to it. Alongside this, the University is promoting plant-based options by giving students a dessert and a starter with every vegan meal as a way to encourage healthier eating. This is opposed to a standard main, which will only give students the option of having a starter or a dessert.

On the menus at Courtyard, a small section is dedicated to encouraging the uptake of vegan meals. Labelled “Why Choose Plant Based?”, the tidbit claims “We can help [climate change] by making small changes to our choices individually, which will make a difference for us all. Eating less meat & dairy is one of the easiest changes we can make to help reduce carbon emissions.”

The concern for the environment was further extended to the library cafe, which promoted “Veganuary” options at the beginning of the year.

In response to this, Chemistry student, Charlie, said: “It is very important for the University to be encouraging healthier eating; however, I think there should be less of a focus on veganism as vegan foods aren’t always sustainable. Encouraging people to eat more natural foods and less processed ones is definitely a step in the right direction.”

History student, Rachel, said: “I think it is important that the University offers a wide range of vegetarian and vegan options for catered students and campus cafés and bars, but I don’t think we should be pushing too much for students to make the healthiest choice. The whole thumbs up system to promote choosing the healthier option is all well and good, but it can also be problematic for people who have eating disorders. Sometimes people can get really obsessed with labels, and it may impact negatively on those who are more perceptible.”

Alongside encouraging healthier eating, the University has started encouraging students to bring in their own reusable cups when buying hot drinks on campus by providing small discounts. This has coincided with selling reusable YORCUPs, which has also increased awareness surrounding single use plastics.

Despite the University’s efforts at promoting sustainability, the all-vegetarian café Vedge that opened in 2019 has closed down and has now been replaced with the non-vegetarian café The Link. This calls to question the popularity of vegetarian options on campus and if there is a big enough student market for the uptake of vegetarian meals.

In response to this, physics student, Alex, said: “I think there is a great variety of vegetarian and vegan options on campus. I have been a vegetarian since I was seven, so I think what the University is doing is very encouraging. “Concerning the closing down of Vedge, I know some people who are a bit annoyed by it but as long as there are good options in other cafes, I don’t think it matters too much.”

Patrick O’Donnell, YUSU President, said: “All of our venues have a range of vegetarian and vegan options, as well as catering for a number of dietary requirements, with an emphasis on creating maximum choice for students. “Our hugely popular new menus at The Courtyard and The Glasshouse serve a wide variety of options, including light bites and salads throughout the day.

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