On 20th February 2023, the Cambridge Students’ Union in Cambridge, England, voted on gradually removing all animal products from its cafes and canteens. This does not guarantee that Cambridge’s catering services will go fully vegan, as such a decision will have to be taken by the university, not its students. It also does not apply to the university’s 31 colleges, but they could well follow suit.

The motion, lobbied from Cambridge’s Plant-Based Universities Campaign which calls for the change in response to “climate and biodiversity crises”, was backed by 72% of non-abstaining student representatives. William Smith, from the Cambridge branch of the Plant-Based Universities campaign, said: “It’s great that Cambridge students’ union has passed our motion to work with the university to implement a just and sustainable plant-based catering system. By removing animal products from its menus, the university could significantly reduce its environmental impact and showcase to the world its commitment to sustainability. The university catering services has already made important strides, for example in 2016 when it removed beef and lamb from all its menus. We look forward to working with them on the next necessary steps.”

A University of Cambridge spokesperson said to the Guardian the following: “The University of Cambridge removed ruminant meat from the menu in all university catering Service cafes in 2016 and has a sustainable food policy which also seeks to actively promote plant-based options, remove unsustainable fish from the menu and reduce food waste. We always welcome suggestions from students and staff.”

Last year, the Students’ Union of Starling University in Scotland become the first in the UK to have 100% vegan catering by 2025. The motion voted in November 2022 aimed to have 50% of the food options plant-based by the 2023-24 academic year, and gradually only serving plant-based food by 2025. 

Jordi Casamitjana
“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’.