University of Edinburgh students vote to ban beef to help save the planet


Students at the University of Edinburgh have voted to ban beef at the institution in order to save the planet after a group of agricultural students were told to leave a meeting debating the decision to remove the meat from menus at its eateries. 

Undergraduates took part in a fierce debate after a motion was raised by the student union and students from Scottish Rural College also turned up to debate the motion.

The Rural College students argued most meat on offer at the University was in fact Scottish and urged others to back the nation’s beef industry.

A petition was set up by student Elly Silverstein and gathered 570 signatures. 

The University of Edinburgh students voted to stop beef products being given out as freebies.

During the debate the agricultural students were asked to leave by the Union on the grounds that they were only matriculated to Scotland’s Rural College and not the University.

When they refused to leave, they were then told they had to vacate the room due to health and safety concerns amid overcrowding, students said.

The motion was then passed with a 51 per cent approval with 76 votes in favour, 73.5 votes against, and five abstentions. 

However, Sarah Whitelaw, a student from the School of Veterinary Studies, said: ‘Personally I think it’s ridiculous that motions voted for during this meeting, directly affected them and they were denied to even listen as they were deemed ‘intimidating’.’

John McCulloch, a student at the SRC branded the result of the debate ‘an absolute joke.’

He said: ‘As students the first thing we are told is not to rely on statistics from the media when making a case but that is exactly what happened.

‘It is very worrying that the motion was passed to move onto the next stage which is an online ballot of all students.’

The motion from the students at the University of Edinburgh comes after a cancer charity was criticised for promoting another ‘meat free month’. 

Macmillan had asked its supporters to take part in a meat-free March event as it also urged people to consider ditching other animal products.

It said: ‘Every meat-free moment matters, whether you go meat-free or ditch dairy as well – how you take part in Meat-Free March is up to you.’

But farmers called it a ‘kick in the teeth’ and demanded the charity support British agriculture instead of starting a second vegan month, following ‘Veganuary’ in January. 

The Association of Independent Meat Suppliers told the Daily Telegraph that the campaign was ‘totally disgraceul’.

But Macmillan said they had stopped promoting the event due to a lack of registrations. 

In a statement, a spokesperson for the charity said: ‘Our supporters want a range of different and exciting ways to raise money for us so we are constantly testing different campaigns and products to help people do this. 

‘However, if we believe it’s not the most effective use of our resources then we will always take the decision to stop an activity or event. For example, last year we trialled fundraising campaigns ‘Up All Night’ and ‘Milestone Moments’ but decided not to continue with them as they did not meet the targets we set.

‘Meat Free March was first trialled at a small scale in 2019 and it yielded positive results for us so we decided to repeat it in 2020. However, it has not brought in the number of registrations and won’t reach the projected income we expected so we have decided to stop actively promoting the event.’

In 2015 study by the University of East Anglia which revealed that eating a small steak every day could be as good for you as stopping smoking.

The study revealed that people who eat lots of protein-rich food were found to have lower blood pressure and more healthy arteries, significantly lowering the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Scientists say the benefit is down to amino acids – the building blocks of proteins – which help strengthen the cells, tissues and muscles in our body.

Lead researcher Dr Amy Jennings, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: ‘This research shows a protective effect of several amino acids on cardiovascular health.

‘Increasing intake from protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, dairy produce, beans, lentils, broccoli and spinach could be an important and readily achievable way to reduce people’s risk of cardiovascular disease.

”Beneficial daily amounts equate to a 75g portion of steak, a 100g salmon fillet or a 500ml glass of skimmed milk.’

The environmental consequences of beef production are well documented, with recent research published in the journal Science finding that beef produces 105kg of greenhouse gases per 100g of meat.

By comparison, tofu results in less than 3.5kg.

In response to the concerns, Andrew Wilson, president of the Students’ Association which held Thursday’s meeting said only enrolled Edinburgh University students have the right to attend, vote and submit policy proposals at student council meetings.

Mr Wilson added non-members are allowed to attend meetings if space is available but Thursday’s was full to capacity.



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