From now on, for three days a week, the number of meat dishes served in hall will be reduced to only one, and the number of vegetarian options increased to two, one of which will be vegan.
In addition, on the days when there are more vegetarian options than meat, the vegetarian meals will be closer to the entrance than the meat dishes, to encourage more people to eat them. This is despite complaints from some omnivorous members of College that they had been prevented from choosing the vegetarian option in the past, with the explanation that “you usually eat meat”.
The motion was proposed as a part of an Oxford for Animals campaign, “Less Meat, More Veg”, which has called for similar changes in colleges throughout the University.
Whilst the motion passed by a significant margin, with one estimate putting the votes at around 50 in favour and 30 against, there was heated opposition to the proposal.
Particularly it was felt that, rather than improving provision for vegetarians, the motion explicitly aimed to reduce the amount of meat eaten in Hall, calling its proposals an “effective and achievable way to reduce the College’s meat consumption”.
The men’s College football team were encouraged to take action against the motion, with the Vice-Captain writing in an email to the team: “We did not seek nor did we provoke an assault on our freedoms and our way of life. We did not expect nor did we invite a confrontation with evil. Yet the true measure of a people’s strength is how they rise to master that moment when it does arrive.”
He added: “Rarely has the football team mobilised as a political unit, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and that time is now.”
However, claims that the opposition was confined to the ‘lad’ community of college have been firmly refuted.
One Balliol meat-eater, who, owing to “the hostile environment in College”, wished to remain anonymous, commented: “It is easy to see how […the] original email could be taken as a rallying cry, which in some ways it was, his forum was however chosen to be the football team as this is the largest body he could reach in the time period available.”
Outlining the level of opposition to the motion, he said, “I feel their [sic] is a significant opposition within College, even from those not branded as “lads,” many thought the motion would be dismissed out of hand and thus did not attend the GM to express their opinion. Some shock has been expressed at the passing of the motion.”
Jamie Harris, a fresher historian who proposed the motion, stated: “The motion’s logic is based on a combination of ethical, environmental and health reasons. Meat production is an incredibly inefficient process and very bad for the environment.”
Highlighting the cruelty involved in much intensive meat farming, as well as the absence of welfare-friendly animal products at Balliol, Jamie called his proposals “an institutional approach to cutting meat consumption”.
Particular attention was drawn to the lack of catering for vegans, which currently leaves them unable to eat in Hall. Although the motion stated that the college currently had few vegan students, it cited another, unrelated motion, which aimed to make the College’s language more acceptable to trans* students, as an example of the JCR’s principle of inclusivity towards minorities, noting that “people chose a vegan based diet for personal, ethical, health, environmental or other reasons.”