The animal rights group PETA announced a list of the 31 most vegan-friendly universities – and the University of Oxford has made the list. The designation was made based on the availability of plant-based dining options and initiatives to promote vegan eating.
The menus at most university cafes are fifty percent meat-free, and almost seventy percent of hospitality food options are vegan or vegetarian. PETA praises the number of vegan options at all forms of dining at the university – in cafes, hospitality and residence halls – in addition to praising the Student Union’s annual Veggie Pledge, which challenges students to go vegan or vegetarian for a month. According to the Student Union, last year 1500 students took part in the challenge, saving thousands of animals and over 5 tonnes of carbon.
“Students in the UK are going vegan in huge numbers, and it’s great to see universities joining the revolution,” says PETA Director Elisa Allen. “PETA commends the University of Oxford for offering healthy and delicious vegan food options that everyone can enjoy.”
One of the university’s initiatives to encourage meat-free eating is the Future of Food programme at the Oxford Martin School. Directed by Professor Charles Godfray, the programme is “an interdisciplinary programme of research and policy engagement concerning all aspects of the food system, based at the University of Oxford”.
Worldwide there is over 300 million tonnes of meat consumption per year, which could rise as much as 75% by the middle of the century. The rearing of livestock for meat, eggs and dairy products generates 15% of total global greenhouse gas emissions and uses 70% of agricultural land.
A 2014 paper by Oxford researchers first provided quantitative evidence that going meat-free can dramatically reduce the impact of our diets on the environment. Since then, further Oxford studies have demonstrated that adopting more plant-based, ‘flexitarian’ diets globally could reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of the food system by more than half.