Plant Based Universities call for the University of York to transition to fully plant based catering


Orla McAndrew (she/her) spoke to Plant Based Universities after their protest at Central Hall

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Image by Image via Quinn Chen

By Orla McAndrew

On Thursday 21 September, a green banner was unveiled at the Central Hall reading ‘Plant-Based University, end the climate crisis’.

The Plant Based Universities (PBU) put a motion forward using YUSUggestions for York to transition to a fully plant-based catering service. The motion received 142 ‘yes’ votes. This is the highest amount of votes a YUSUggestion has received.

However, since this record-breaking vote, the PBU believes that the University is not doing enough to move towards a fully plant-based campus.

Nouse sat down with Claire Sheldon (they/them), who helped coordinate the Central Hall banner drop and the letting off of non-toxic green flares. They said that the PBU felt it “was a necessary move to get the University’s attention, and remind them that this was a suggestion passed by the students”.

Jazz Morley, a fellow PBU campaigner explained that “Getting the motion passed through our student union last year was fantastic, but that was really just the beginning and we’re hoping that the campaign at Central Hall raises more awareness of the campaign here at the University of York, especially since it’s freshers week”

They added “We are not asking for individual change, students can bring whatever they want to campus, however what we are asking for and what was voted for was systematic change within the University towards a greener campus”.

This campaign is happening across many universities, with banner drops taking place at the University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores, Bishop Burton College and the University of Manchester. The PBU has active campaigns across 70 universities, Claire said “we all work together to support each other's campaigns and outreach projects”.

“It is outreach that we are now focusing on. We had tables outside Central Hall so we weren’t just shouting at people, we want students to be able to approach us and find out more about what we do. The climate crisis is something everyone, but especially young people, should be paying attention to as it will impact our future”.

According to the People and Plant University League, 59 percent of UK universities are not on track to meet their sustainability pledges, and the University of York is one of those universities.

Claire explained that “the University has academics who are researching climate change and the climate crisis. They should be listening to them and their research instead of turning a blind eye. Our suggestion was approved in March, but we have not yet seen any real change”.

The PBU plans to focus on outreach. Claire added that the PBU has had a “positive” response from the student body, and they hope to continue this with projects to engage with “every part of the student community as the climate crisis is a problem for everyone”.

The University commented that 65 percent of the food offered in University sites is meat free and that they are continuously looking at increasing what plant based food is on offer.. They also added that 95 percent of the  meat is Red Tractor, coming
mostly from Yorkshire farms - this also applies to the milk and free range eggs.