Students Staff

18 October 2019

Committee meetings go meat-free to reduce climate impacts

Filed under: Latest news — ckeitch @ 12:53 pm

Daisy Malt, our Sustainability Engagement Officer, tells us more about the work we’re doing to ensure we’re serving healthy food prepared with the minimum harm to nature.

Daisy Malt

Daisy Malt

Here at the University of Essex, we have been continuously working to reduce our carbon emissions and improve the quality of our environment, as detailed in a recent blog from our Head of Sustainability, Rob Davey. Within the sector, our emissions are, overall, lower than many other institutions. In fact, our carbon emissions have fallen by a third, compared with 2005 levels (a drop of just over 5,700 tonnes of CO2, which is approximately equivalent to 2,500 white rhinoceros!) and our current goal is to achieve a reduction of 43% by the end of the 2020-21 academic year. Our long-term goal is to become carbon neutral.

In support of the University’s Sustainability Sub-Strategy 2016-19, which “commits to serving healthy food prepared with the minimum harm to nature” as well as championing “ethical production, alternatives to meat, local ingredients and avoiding foods derived from endangered species”, the University will now be offering only meat-free catering at all committee meetings and committee events beginning in the 2019-20 academic year. This is a fantastic step towards reducing our impact on the environment – reduced meat consumption is one of the biggest ways people can lower their carbon footprint. While this applies only to committees at this stage, we hope that teams across the University will follow suit by choosing meat-free options when catering for other meetings and events.

Livestock takes up around 83 percent of farmland, yet only contributes 18 per cent of our food calories, and huge quantities of resources, including water, are needed to feed and rear animals that we then eat. In addition, those same animals produce large amounts of greenhouse gases, like Methane, whose negative effect on the climate is 23 times higher than the effect of CO2. Regular meat-eaters can lower their impact and decrease their carbon footprint by having just one meat-free day per week.

Of equal importance is reducing food waste too; we encourage everyone who orders catering for meetings to ensure they don’t over-order and, when there is excess food, consider how it can be distributed.

If you’re looking for an alternative for lunch, Essex Food outlets on campus, plus SU venues, offer a wide range of meat-free options.

The new meat-free catering menu and order form for committees may be found on the SharePoint Committee Portal under Resources for Committee Management.

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