Mansfield tops survey of colleges’ vegetarian food provision

Mansfield College, Oxford, has come top of a poll rating vegetarian and vegan food provision across the University. Over 200 students voted in the poll, launched at the beginning of Michaelmas term by the Oxford University Animal Ethics Society.

Allan Dodd, Bursar at Mansfield College, said: “This ranking is the result of a great deal of hard work and enthusiasm by our excellent catering team, who take vegetarian and vegan cooking extremely seriously. They treat the needs of vegetarians and vegans just as seriously as those of other staff and students, as of course they should.”

“This isn’t about resources, it is about commitment, imagination, and inclusivity.”

“Our head chef goes out of his way to plan interesting vegetarian meals, to provide two vegetarian options every day, and to vary the vegetarian menu every day and every week to ensure that there is as little repetition in the vegetarian offer as there is for the meat-based dishes.”

Keen to highlight that money ought not to be the limiting factor in vegetarian food provision, he added: “If Mansfield, one of the least well-endowed colleges in the University, can produce great vegetarian and vegan food, then every college can. This isn’t about resources, it is about commitment, imagination, and inclusivity.”

After Mansfield, Worcester College and Kellogg College also found favour with vegetarian diners, coming second and third respectively. At the other end of the table, Magdalen College was voted the worst college for vegetarian and vegan food, followed by St John’s and Jesus.

Tobias Thornes, President of Oxford University Animal Ethics Society, said: “We all hope that this will encourage Oxford Colleges to improve their provision of vegetarian food. After all many colleges have fixed catering fees, which means students have to pay for the food whether they like it or not.”

As part of the survey, College Bursars were invited to state whether they provide vegetarian and vegan options, whether they have chefs trained in vegetarian and vegan food, and offer a sample menu.

In a collective response from the Domestic Bursars’ Committee, however, the format and potential results of the table were criticised. “Many of us are very sceptical about the quality and quantity of responses your approach will bring and how they might be weighted to give a comparative picture on such a broad topic,” it said.

And in response to references to the survey as a “vegetarian Norrington table”, the committee advised caution: “The use of the name ‘Norrington’ is deeply misleading and cannot have the approval of the man who invented the academic results table after whom it is named. The metrics you are using do not lend themselves to comparison in the same was [sic] as that table operates.”