The Students’ Union of Starling University in Scotland has become the first in the UK to have 100% vegan catering by 2025. The motion voted in November 2022 aims to have 50% of the food options plant-based by the 2023-24 academic year, and gradually lead to only serving plant-based food by 2025. The result will only impact the union’s three eateries, not the rest of the food outlets that are not under the control of the union. 

The initiative was proposed by the Plant-Based Universities (PBU) campaign, which said the students’ union was setting a gold standard in environmental policy for other universities to follow. In 2020, the Student’s Union of the University of Edinburgh rejected a ban on serving beef, so now Sterling University has become the most progressive environmentally and animal-friendly university in Scotland.

On 2nd November 2022, the union posted on its website, “A transition to plant-based food is a necessary step in the development of a more sustainable food system, and to reduce the climatic effect on the planet. This transition can be achieved without detriment to any particular person(s). This transition should aim to end in an entirely plant-based food system within Stirling Students Union…Globally the largest proportion of emissions from food production comes from animal agriculture (57%), with the emissions worldwide exceeding the entire emissions of the United States… the production of plant-based foods contributes to only 29% of emissions- with the worst emitter of plant-based food only contributing to 12% of overall food emissions – with beef sitting at 25%.”

Nathan McGovern, the Plant-Based Universities co-founder, said to BBC Scotland’s Mornings programme, “The details of the motion were available to the whole student body over a week before the vote was taken. The majority of students who took the opportunity to vote, voted in favour of the motion for this transition. That is choice… It shows that people invested in creating a better world and a sustainable food system are pushing for this change. So, absolutely, we would love to see other universities and catering establishments follow this.”

George Monbiot, journalist and environmental activist, said to the BBC, “The Plant-Based Universities campaigners at the University of Stirling are leading the way in tackling the climate crisis and creating a sustainable food system.”  He and his fellow plant-based presenter Chris Peckham had been supporting this campaign. 

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.