Beef products are back on the menu at the University of East Anglia less than one month after its student union voted to ban all sales and ‘declare a climate emergency’.
Student backlash forced the U-turn, suggesting it would be ‘wrong and undemocratic’ to have made the decision without consulting the rest of the university.
The union has since said it would reinstate all beef products into its shops and bars, despite its initial vote that branded the meat a ‘critical contributor to climate change’.
Last week 53 per cent of the union council voted to overturn the ban, against 36 per cent who voted to keep it.
This was compared to the November vote to ban beef, which was won by just a one per cent majority.
The Countryside Alliance (CA) said universities should instead look to reduce CO2 in other areas, ‘like excessive air travel’.
Mo Metcalf-Fisher said: “Banning beef would have been the wrong thing to do. It would set a dangerous precedent.
“Universities should be sourcing local, sustainable grass-fed beef from UK farmers who are providing a solution to the very real concerns over climate change.”
Just last month a Freedom of Information request by the CA found the University of Cambridge, which has banned sales of beef and lamb on campus to ‘lower carbon emissions’, had undertaken more than 17,000 flights globally over a three-and-a-half-year period, the same length of time it had implemented the ban.
Livestock farmers have teamed up with the CA in a letter to the University’s vice chancellor to call for the ban to be reversed in favour of ‘sustainable red meat from local livestock farmers’.
NFU vice president Stuart Roberts said the overturn was ‘encouraging’, especially following the Union’s meeting with 40 universities to showcase British livestock production as part of the climate solution.
“Despite this, it is deeply disappointing that the University will apply a levy on beef products,” he said.
“By buying British beef and looking out for the Red Tractor logo, you are purchasing a product that has been produced sustainably by turning inedible grass into high quality, nutritious protein through grazing livestock.
“This is one of the most climate-friendly ways of feeding our growing population as our extensive grasslands act as a carbon sink and I would urge the University’s Union Council to back British livestock farmers by sourcing British beef.”
Andrew Loftus, a beef farmer and commercial director at tech company SellMyLivestock, which represents 60,000 farmers via its marketplaces, added the issue of greenhouse gas emissions was ‘more complicated than just what food people eat’.
“To penalise one food type on the basis of global average numbers - without a proper understanding of the way it was produced could lead to well-intentioned people actually increasing their emissions,” he said.
“Different food types, where and how they are produced, and the method by which they’re transported, have hugely different carbon footprints. For example, substituting Mexican avocados for British beef can actually result in greater environmental costs.”