Lincoln College’s JCR and MCR have voted to make vegetarian meals the default dinner option once a week.
The JCR passed the ‘less meat, more veg’ motion almost unanimously on Sunday evening, and the MCR approved the plans the following evening.
If college authorities agree, diners seeking a meat meal will have to sign up prior to 10 a.m. on the veg-default day. One of the two meat choices normally on offer at lunch will be converted into an extra non-meat option.
The two common rooms are the latest to pass such motions, following in the footsteps of Oriel, Corpus Christi and Brasenose JCRs, as well as Balliol JCR and MCR.
Fern Lai, Environment and Ethics Rep and proposer of the JCR motion, said she had received little negative feedback during the process. “Before the meeting I had heard minor comments of ‘I vote meat’ and ‘I hate vegetables’, but I think this was largely because people thought that I was proposing a ‘less meat, more veg’ day every day of the week,” she said.
“When I explained everything clearly in the meeting and went through the environmental and ethical arguments, everyone voted in favour. Most questions were to ask details of the motion and not counter arguments.”
According to the motion, 18 per cent of greenhouse gases are caused by livestock farming and current meat production levels are unsustainable. It goes on to say that the ‘less meat, more veg’ plan is “probably one of the easiest ways to reduce the college’s carbon footprint”.
Lai said that she was confident that the motion would be implemented by the college authorities, despite a similar plan facing problems two years ago.
“Having spoken to most of the college staff in advance, I have every faith that they will put this into practice. I had spoken to the domestic bursar and the chef about the campaign and their largest concern was that the students wouldn’t support the idea.”
“We tried a similar idea about two years ago at Lincoln, but it wasn’t nearly as convenient in practice and it received quite a lot of student opposition,” she added.
Rachel Jeal, Lincoln’s JCR President, said: “The policy is very likely to be implemented as there have already been discussions with the catering staff and they have all been very positive.”
Other students also expressed sup- port for the motion. Joe Ewing, a second year student at Lincoln, de- scribed the move as a “historic step forward”.
“The environmental and ethical impact of the livestock industry is something I’ve only become aware of relatively recently, and I think that is the case with most people, but it seemed to be uncontested that it is an issue we can’t ignore,” he said.
“Gradually we’re realising that our consumption is having serious effects well beyond our local communities; we’re beginning to realise the consequences of living on a global scale.”
“The Fairtrade movement is one example of our ability to begin to respond to this realisation, hopefully the ‘less meat, more veg’ will be another,” he added.
Others were less convinced. Alex West, a third year at Lincoln, commented: “I am an inherent antivegivore. Consuming unnecessary calories in non-protein based forms is noxious to the construction and maintenance of the elite abdominal six pack.”
Mitch Byrne, a Lincolnite on his year abroad, added, “Meat and two veg, please mate. Hold the veg, as I always say to Lincoln’s chef.”
Pro-vegetarian initiatives are common in Oxford. Earlier this year, a referendum in Somerville JCR voted in favour of introducing ‘Meat-Free Mondays’.