Berlin’s University Canteens Remove Meat From Menus to Protect Environment

Starting this fall semester, 34 canteens and cafeterias at four of Berlin’s universities will mainly offer vegan and vegetarian food in order to make the menu options more climate-friendly.

Menus are designed to lower carbon emissions of Berlin universities; therefore, the 34 canteens will include only one meat option in their menu four days a week, whereas 68 percent of the menu will be vegan, 28 percent vegetarian, and two percent will be fish-based options.

Currently, canteens are closed, nevertheless students can pick up meals on their demands, reports. 

“The new nutritional concept was mainly developed because students have repeatedly approached us with the request for a more climate-friendly offer at their canteens,” Daniela Kummle from Studierendenwerk said, which is a service provider for students attending higher education institutions in the German capital.

Deutsches Studentenwerk spokesperson, Stefan Grob, said that university canteens in Germany had included 30 to 50 percent more vegetarian options compared to prior years. Grob also pointed out that there is a high demand for plant-based diet among students on the campuses in Berlin, but also in the whole country.

According to a survey assembled in 2019, 13.5 percent of students in Berlin were vegan while 33 percent identified as vegetarians. That year, university canteens across the city offered 5.6 million meals to students.

“The great success of the vegetarian and vegan canteens have made it clear that students’ consumer behavior is changing. There’s a clear trend towards fewer animal-based products,” Kummle told The Guardian.

A report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published in 2019 pointed out that plant-based meals have an important role to alleviate climate change.

Berlin’s Free University had its canteen serving only vegetarian meals in 2010, whereas the first vegan canteen in Berlin was opened in 2019 at the Technical University, offering only vegan food.

Several other universities in the world are also committed to reduce carbon emissions. The University of Michigan in the United States announced earlier this year that one of its priorities is to achieve carbon neutrality. Some of the measures that the university said it would take as part of its zero-carbon emissions commitment include geothermal heating and cooling, energy-efficiency projects funding, and electric buses.

Last year in December, Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) released the first-ever report on climate change named “Beyond business as usual: Higher education in the era of climate change,”  urging all UK universities and colleges to have zero carbon emissions by 2035 and also to review teaching methodologies over the current era of climate change.

Meanwhile, the Humboldt University in Berlin also announced its goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2030, whereas the Technical University said it is planning to do so before 2045. Goldsmiths, University of London also pointed out it is planning to cut beef from its menu and become carbon-neutral by 2025.

Other universities that have cut beef from menus include UK’s Cambridge University which took the decision in 2016, under which move, the university managed to reduce carbon emissions by 33 percent, as well as the University of Coimbra in Portugal, which also said it is planning to go meat-free in order to protect the environment.

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