Why Exeter must support a meatless day a week?

Two students from the JCR of Exeter College have proposed to the JCR & MCRthat one day in the college hall should be meatless. Their main argument stems from the UN’s Livestock’s Long Shadow Report. The  400-page report is an in-depth assessment of the significant impact of world’s livestock on the environment. Meat consumption is projected to double by 2050 , ensuingirreversible consequences. The meat industry already contributes to 20% of global emissions.

According to the college chef, we buy (approximately) the following amounts of meat  every week: 150 kg Beef, 150 kg, Diced Chicken, 600 Chicken Breasts, 100 kg Lamb, 60 kg Pork, 30 kg Bacon, 10 kg Sausages. This translates to 16.4 tons of CO2e (see below) every week of which red meat alone contributes 12.8 tons. Considering that the hall is run on full capacity for 30 weeks (3 Terms) in a year and 30% capacity for 15 weeks, it means the hall’s carbon footprint coming from meat consumption is a staggering 566 ton of CO2e per year. A meatless day a week, can reduce that consumption by about 15%, which is 85 ton CO2e. This is equivalent to the annual carbon footprint of eight people in the UK. It’s not just a reduction in the carbon footprint but also our water footprint. (More on that here). The UN report also speaks about the impact of meat on water depletion, water pollution & biodiversity.

However, moving beyond the environmental impact, What other advantages are Exeter students posed to have if the motion is passed? A reduction in the amount of meat bought by the college will decrease the spending of the hall. The money saved can then be utilised to reduce the cost of the food or can be invested into buying healthier foods. Of course, it’s healthy and people who have always had meat will get a chance to explore vegetarian food (I am sure the chefs will do their best to make that an indeed pleasurable experience).

Delving into the counter-perspective. What are things that could go wrong if the motion is passed? Well one possible argument can be that the quality of vegetarian food will go down because people are not given a choice. Not really a thing we cannot handle, isn’t it? I definitely I think thatthe chefs are indeed open to experimenting with recipe suggestions in offering better vegetarian options. Now coming to the choice of day. Which day is the best for doing this? There is a strong argument for Mondays. The points for a Monday are enlisted here. Against? Yes, Exeter has the famous steak night on Mondays. But the catering manager has agreed to make adjustments such that the steak night will still happen on another day of the week. Three Oxford colleges have already passed a motion to have Meat Free Mondays. If not, any other day is fine too. The catering has made it clear that if the motion is passed for any day of the week they are ready to swing things around to suit the best needs and interests of the students.

I hope that these arguments serve to convince you that this is definitely a good idea and makes you come support the motion in the JCR on Sunday the 31st at 8.30 pm.

^ CO2e stands for carbon dioxide equivalent, which is an internationally accepted measure that expresses the amount of global warming from greenhouse gases. CO2e is not limited to carbon dioxide but includes other gases like Methane & Nitrous oxide.

* Calculations of the carbon footprint have been done based on reports published by New Scientistthe Guardian.

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