The University of Oxford college has voted to strike meat from its menu today and for the next seven Wednesdays, a trial run for a permanent move to a meat free midweek.
A proposal that the college kitchens ditch meat and fish for one day a week was initially put forward at a meeting of the JCR (undergraduate student body) then put to a college-wide vote after a well-attended debate.
The motion in favour of a meat free Wednesday was carried by 65.7 per cent of the votes, with turnout at about 54 per cent of the student body.
Regent’s Park student Will Yates, who proposed the meat free motion, said he enjoyed representing the thoughts and feelings of a large section of the college community.
“I hope this result shows that while there is still a lot of work to be done, Regent’s is as committed to making progressive ethical changes as it ever has been. It’s not often that we get to gauge the feelings of the whole college community on a matter like this, and I think that the community has made a firm statement of its values and beliefs.”
Will Tomsett, JCR vice-president and chair of the food committee at Regent’s Park College, said the discussion about having a meat free Wednesday engaged everyone.
“I am very pleased that we had this constructive debate over our meat consumption as a society. It was refreshing to hear so many people express a real interest in their diets and the environmental sustainability of our eating patterns. We are hoping that our decision to go meat free one day a week will send a message to other Oxford colleges that altering one’s diet for even one day a week can make a massive change to the wider world and to one’s own quality of life.”
Ethan Knightly, who spoke against the motion, was disappointed with the result but hailed the “positive impacts” of having the debate.
“The key to any form of lasting progress is awareness of the issues,” he said. “I cannot think of a single person in college who hasn’t learnt anything new from the referendum, which can inform their future lifestyle decisions.”
While today’s delicious menu will go some way to assuaging opponents at Regent’s Park – including stuffed courgettes, mushroom risotto and vegetable lasagne – several University of Oxford students and colleges have already been convinced by the environmental and health arguments.
In April last year Wadham College adopted a Meat Free Monday, while in December Queen’s College voted in favour of joining the campaign. Lincoln College makes a vegetarian meal the default food option on a Monday, while Brasenose, Balliol and Oriel give more weight to meat free options than they used to.
The #VeggiePledge initiative instigated by the University of Oxford student union also saw students commit to eat only vegetarian or vegan food during November last year. More than 250 students from 20 colleges signed up to the initiative.
Regent’s Park decided to choose a meat free Wednesday rather than a Meat Free Monday because it better suited the pattern of attendance at the college. However it works for you, the important thing is to make the leap. Whatever day of the week you choose, one day a week without meat can make a world of the difference.