Breaking! New Poll Shows Over 55% of Students Would Like To See More Plant-Based Options In Their Universities

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This World Vegan Month a new website has been launched where students nationwide can rate their university’s vegan catering online. UniVe website, launched by Humane Society International/UK, ranks universities so that students can compare the quality and taste of their university’s vegan food. HSI/UK launched UniVe to encourage British universities to improve their vegan catering to better serve thousands of plant-based students, after a new YouGov poll showed that 55% of students would like to see more plant-based options in their canteens. The poll also showed that almost half (47%) of students were either flexitarian, pescetarian, vegetarian or vegan and that 49% of students would like to eat less meat and/or dairy. 

In addition to universities worldwide responding to increased demand in plant-based cuisine, providing better vegan options will also make institutions more climate and environment-friendly. HSI/UK’s calculations show that if every university in the UK increased the number of vegan meals they served by just 10%, it would save around 33million kg of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually, the equivalent of driving an average petrol car around the globe 4,388 times.

HSI/UK plans to present the best performing universities with UniVe awards, and offer free, plant-based culinary training in order to help universities meet the rising demand for meat-free and dairy-free meals.

“Thanks to growing concern from students about animal welfare, human health, and environmental impacts of the meat and dairy industries, there has been a huge boom in demand for veggie options at universities, with our latest polls showing that half of all students want to eat less meat and/or dairy,” said Charlie Huson, Forward Food Programme Manager at HSI/UK, in a statement sent to WAN.

“While some institutions offer a range of plant-based options to support these diet shifts, others are clearly not doing so well, so HSI/UK has launched our UniVe campaign and website to encourage and support universities to put more plants on plates. Serving less meat and dairy focused foods is an important way to combat climate change, as well as improve student health and spare animals from suffering short and miserable lives on factory farms,” continued Huson.

“We are delighted to be supporting HSI/UK in their aim to encourage universities to offer more plant-based options on their menus. Our members are constantly adapting and innovating to meet student demand as the demand for plant-based menus continues to rise – from both vegans and flexitarians alike,” said Mike Haslin, CEO of The University Caterers Organization (TUCO). “We also can’t ignore the environmental impact of reducing the use of animal products and we continue to support our members on their sustainability journeys as more and more students look for ways to eat sustainably.

Over the last three years, HSI/UK’s Forward Food program has been working with universities up and down the country including: Oxford, Winchester, Swansea, Oxford Brookes, Portsmouth, St Andrews and the University of Central Lancashire, providing vegan training sessions for their chefs.

Some universities are already making notable changes to their menus. Winchester University is serving veggie and vegan-only meals to mark World Vegan Month, while Trinity College in Dublin has introduced a plant-based menu at its newly launched restaurant The Forum’.  A number of universities across the UK and Europe have also dropped beef to cut carbon emissions; Goldsmiths in London, the University of Cambridge, Portugal’s University of Coimbra and The University of Helsinki, have all decided to make their catering more environmentally responsible.

Combating climate change is a major factor in universities deciding to move away from meat and dairy. With animal agriculture producing around 16% of all human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, in order to reduce their carbon footprint, universities must reduce the amount of meat, eggs and dairy they serve. In fact, Oxford University scientists have recently confirmed that eating a vegan diet is the single most effective thing an individual can do to help reduce climate change.

HSI/UK offers free vegan culinary training sessions as part of its Forward Food program which works with businesses, catering companies, universities, and other major institutions serving tens of thousands of meals per day. 

The one to two-day training sessions for chefs gives them creative and culinary tools to create delicious vegan meals. This involves running cooking workshops around flavor, texture, and utilizing grains and pulses, providing new ingredients for chefs to taste and experiment with. The sessions also introduce chefs to consumer and industry trends and case studies of businesses that have successfully boosted sales with plant-based options. They also explore the drivers for plant-based eating, including animal welfare, health and the environment. To find out more, CLICK HERE!

The UniVe website can be viewed HERE!

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate. #GoVeg

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