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The Red Tape on Red Meat: Universities in UK Removing Beef from Menus

Goldsmiths University of London, has become the first educational institution in the UK to remove all beef product from campus shops and cafes, in an effort to “tackle climate change.”

This came days after a UN special report on climate change advocated for the elimination of beef from our diets in order to combat climate change.

The school’s decision to ban beef was driven primarily by the decision of the new Warden of Goldsmiths, Professor Frances Corner.

“The growing global call for organisations to take seriously their responsibilities for halting climate change is impossible to ignore,” Corner said.  “Though I have only just arrived at Goldsmiths, it is immediately obvious that our staff and students care passionately about the future of our environment and that they are determined to help deliver the step change we need to cut our carbon footprint drastically and as quickly as possible.”

Going meat-free is not a new concept in UK universities. Some have been practicing it in a smaller measure, and others are advocating for veganism.

The University of East Anglia—where I received my master’s degree in environmental sciences and home of the Climategate scandal—had been having “meat-free Mondays.”

The university claims that meat-free Mondays “demonstrate the health benefits of a meat free diet and helping individuals understand that they can lower their carbon footprint by avoiding all animal products.”

In 2017, the University of York ran meat-free Mondays, saying that, “By cutting meat out of your diet one day a week you can help reduce greenhouse gases and eat a healthier diet.” The Imperial College, London, too had meat-free Mondays in January of this year.

More recently, Dave Gorman, Director of Social Responsibility and Sustainability at the University of Edinburgh, said the university aims to go 50 percent vegetarian. “We aim to move towards half of all menu options in our cafes being vegetarian or vegan,” he tweeted.

But these universities have committed at least two major blunders by advocating for meat-free days, veganism, and a red meat ban.

  1. Emissions from the Cattle Industry Do Not Drive Global Warming

    The core rationale for thebeef ban is beef’s linkage to greenhouse gas emissions and how they increase global temperature. Butmethane’s contribution to warming is very minimal, and the cattle industry does not cause any difference to the warming.

Despite significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions, from both the cattle industry and the burning of coal, global temperature failed to increase to predicted (dangerous) levels during the first 16 years of this century.

The magnitude of warming that is assumed by the UN has always been incorrect. Measurements from both the thermometers and satellites reveal that the real-world global average temperature never rose to the levels predicted in the UN reports on climate change. Scientists working with the UN confirmed this when they picked up the errors in their computer climate model predictions.

Even if we are to assume that global average temperature was rising dangerously, the curtailment of beef in our diet does not make much difference.

Matt Ridley from the Telegraph notes that “even if the average westerner gave up meat altogether it would cut her total emissions by just 4.3 percent. This is because food is only a modest part of our emissions.” In the United States, for example, the entire animal agriculture industry contributed only 3.9 percent of the entire greenhouse gas emissions in the country.

  1. Moral Policing is Unacceptable

Meat-free Mondays are not merely about greenhouse emissions, but also about the imposition of a vegetarian diet upon the masses. The very fact that universities have mixed a vegetarian diet with a beef ban—while not approving white meats, like chicken, or fish—signals their intentions to morally police meat eaters.

Furthermore, dietary preferences are an individual’s private matter. The state or institution cannot infringe upon the personal life of an individual. Red meat has been a part of our diet since the early days of human civilization, long before we domesticated wild plants through agriculture to produce fruits and vegetables.

It is fair to conclude that the ban on beef and forcibly making young people go meat-free are immature moves by universities that ought to be centers of reason and intelligence. Instead, they’ve become testing grounds for wishful people in pursuit of extinguishing an imaginary climate emergency.

Vijay Jayaraj (M.Sc., Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, England), Research Associate for Developing Countries for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, lives in Bangalore, India.

Vijay Jayaraj

Vijay Jayaraj (M.Sc., Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, England), a Contributor for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, lives in Chennai, India.