London University Bans Beef To Tackle Climate Change

Beef has been permanently taken off the menu at a university in London as a part of an effort to reduce its carbon footprint, and to generally be more environmentally conscious.

Goldsmiths College announced on Monday that it will become the first beef-free campus in Britain at the start of its autumn term. It will also introduce a 10 pence levy on plastic water bottles and single-use plastic cups.

Known for its eco-friendly initiatives, the university's other measures include plans to install more solar panels, switch to a 100 percent clean energy supplier as soon as possible and to invest more in its green allotments (where planting could help to absorb carbon dioxide).

Goldsmiths University
A picture shows the front of the Students Union at Goldsmiths, University of London, in London on August 13, 2019. - Students at London's Goldsmiths will no longer be munching on canteen staples such as burgers and chilli after the prestigious university announced it would ban all beef products to fight climate change. (TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Scientists say that in terms of meat, beef is most damaging to the environment, as cows produce more methane and require more land and water than other livestock.

According to the BBC, the college's new head, Professor Frances Corner, said on Monday that "the growing global call for organizations to take seriously their responsibilities for halting climate change is impossible to ignore."

She continued, "Though I have only just arrived at Goldsmiths, it is immediately obvious that our staff and students care passionately about the future of our environment and that they are determined to help deliver the step change we need to cut our carbon footprint drastically and as quickly as possible."

The banning of beef, however, will probably be the most controversial move. The news of the announcement began to spread quickly on social media on Tuesday.

Jason Hickel, a senior lecturer in anthropology at Goldsmiths, urged other universities to follow suit. "There's no reason you can't win similar changes at your own institution, be it a university, school, hospital, church, company or whatever," he posted on Twitter on Tuesday. "People are ready to mobilise around rapid change. Now is the time."

There's no reason you can't win similar changes at your own institution - be it a university, school, hospital, church, company, or whatever. People are ready to mobilize around rapid change. Now is the time.

— Jason Hickel (@jasonhickel) August 12, 2019

Some were delighted by the news. One twitter user tweeted on Tuesday: "Mark your calendars. Today is the day that you can tell your grandchildren that the tide was turned. Goldsmiths University in London will ban the sale of ALL beef products." Another said, "Congratulations to ⁦@GoldsmithsUoL⁩ for addressing the role that our food choices play in the climate crisis."

THIS IS HOW YOU CHANGE THE WORLD! A university in #London is banning beef to reduce its impact on climate change.

Eating meat and dairy is one of the most harmful things you can do to our planet.

ALL colleges should follow #Goldsmiths’ lead!

— PETA (@peta) August 13, 2019

Others, more critical of the idea, seemed to think the new rule was too strict, or would be ultimately ineffectual. Neil O'Mahony tweeted, "People should be free to eat whatever they please!"

I can’t believe this. This will have little or no effect on climate change. It will only effect uk farmers. 8% of cattle in Europe yet 36% India. Should focus efforts there not in UK. Goldsmiths bans beef from university cafes to tackle climate crisis

— Oliver Edwards (@EXMOOR_FARMER) August 13, 2019

Goldsmiths Students' Union president Joe Leam said: "Our house is on fire," invoking the words of teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg.

"I believe...the university management are realizing this and making these changes to put their part of the house fire out."

Last week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, part of the United Nations, recommended that everyone eat less red meat. They said that if the world's population moved to a more plant-based diet emissions could fall by up to eight billion tonnes a year, and human health would improve.