College dining halls typically feature meat-heavy menus with a few vegetarian or vegan options, but Oxford students are hoping to change that. Students voted to ban lamb and beef from the majority of campus eateries with the goal of making the university more environmentally-friendly.

Three Oxford students motioned for the student union to ban lamb and meat from university-catered events and outlets with one exception of college butteries, which are the late-night cafes (who follow their own policies). “As the U.K’s premier university, the nation looks to Oxford for leadership. But Oxford has shown a lack of leadership in addressing climate change,” the motion read.

Two-thirds of the student union voted in favor of the ban, specifically 31 votes for, nine against and 13 abstentions. Oxford ultimately makes the last-call on whether or not to ban lamb and beef entirely, but the student union plans on pressuring the university and its faculty to follow through.

Lamb and beef have the highest CO2 compared to other protein sources 

The students singled out lamb and beef specifically because both have the greatest environmental impact in comparison to other animal products. Lamb emits 39.2 kilograms of CO2 to produce one kilo (2.2 lbs) whereas beef has 27 kilograms CO2 per kilo, according to Bussiness Insider.

By banning lamb and beef from campus eateries, the school would be getting closer to its target of cutting 5 percent of carbon emissions by 2030. “The banning of beef and lamb at university-catered events and outlets is a feasible and effective strategy to help the university meet its revised 2030 goal," the motion explained.

These Oxford students are representing the younger generations, specifically Millennials and Gen-Z, who are motivated to eat plant-based for the environment. Recent data showed 35 percent of Gen-Zers say they'll be plant-based by 2021.

Colleges are being backed into a corner to provide more options that meet students' needs. “I welcome the mandate to engage the University on this important issue. However, it is important to recognize that food-based changes may not be possible for every student or staff member at the University. Further, food-based changes are just one part of changes we’d like to see the University make to tackle the Climate Crisis," Oxford SU Vice President Charities and Communities, Ben Farmer, told Cherwell.

Oxford students lead the way to more environmentally-friendly colleges

Oxford wouldn't be the first school to make a ban like this: Goldsmiths, University of London and the University of Cambridge banned beef to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change. The University of Cambridge replaced red meat with plant-based products and revealed a 33 percent reduction in carbon emissions per kilogram of food purchased.

In the U.S. colleges have yet to make bans such as these U.K. universities but are trying to become more plant-forward. Colleges such as Yale University, University of Colorado Boulder, Wesleyan University and the University of California San Diego were recognized as the most vegan-friendly college by VegNews. If a prestigious university such as Oxford puts a ban in place, this will show other colleges in the U.K. and the U.S. it is not only possible but also what the younger generations want.

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