A JCR motion pushing for the rescission of ‘Veggie Wednesdays’ at Regent’s Park College was abandoned this week amid controversy among students.
Despite the motion being withdrawn during the meeting this week, due to a lack of necessary statistical evidence, Regent’s Park JCR President Ella Taylor-Fagan, speaking exclusively to Cherwell, said that it is possible that the motion will return in the next meeting. Taylor-Fagan commented that “the motion was brought forward by two members of the JCR, after concerns were raised about the financial and environmental implications of veggie Wednesdays”.
Reports from the meeting suggest that the proposers insufficient knowledge of the topic led Taylor-Fagan to urge a postponement.
Regent’s Park’s current tradition is to provide solely meat-free options in college hall on Wednesdays. This was begun in 2015 as a result of a JCR referendum instigated by then-finalist Will Yates, and was at first met with positive support.
First-year Geography student Ethan Dockery, who proposed the motion against ‘meat-free Wednesdays’, was keen to abandon the current arrangement. He commented that, “whilst in theory the concept means well, it doesn’t work in practice as eating in hall on that day is stigmatised—no one wants to eat in a ‘dead’ hall”.
Dockery went on to explain that, as a result of the supposed unpopularity of the practice, the “food made, and other aspects of preparing the food—such as water and energy—gets wasted”. When asked whether he was surprised by the mixed reaction to the motion, he said that he “wasn’t surprised by the reaction itself, but by the size of the controversy… people were up in arms before they had even read the motion”.
One vegetarian student from the college told Cherwell that it was necessary to block Dockery’s motion, as “it decreased the number of food choices vegetarians would have, and the ‘wastage’ argument was irrelevant, as college bases meal provisions on previous weeks. The motion came with good intentions, for example with the proposer hoping for college to decrease the overall consumption of the more polluting meats (i.e. beef)…this should, however, have been the main focus. Vegetarianism without a doubt has positive environmental and ethical impacts, and the consensus in college shows people wouldn’t want to modify veggie Wednesday, which was actually something that drew me to Regent’s.”
Due to students’ opposition, various Oxford colleges have faced similar difficulty when attempting to implement and uphold the policy. Somerville College held a controversial referendum concerning ‘meat-free Mondays’ in 2013, which caused split opinion. In response to the reaction, the college reached a compromise: ‘More-Veg Mondays’.
Somerville undergraduate and Oxford Vegetarian Society co-president Miriam Adler, who identifies as a “longtime angry vegan”, is in favour of introducing meat-free days to as many colleges as possible. Adler commented that “having a meat-free day each week is a great way to encourage students to think about their food choices and the consequences they can have for the lives of animals, or for the environment…changing what we eat is one of the easiest things we can do to make a difference. Of course, one vegetarian meal a week is not enough to have a massive impact, but it gives people an opportunity to open the debate, and it might make the thought of going vegetarian or vegan more palatable!”
‘Meat-free Wednesdays’ in Regent’s Park will continue, unless the revival of the motion receives sufficient support.