UCLU’s Council have voted to scrap Meat Free Mondays after a motion that was submitted earlier this week.
Submitted by two sabbatical officers, one of whom is Zakariya Mohran, Sustainability Officer, the motion cited the failure of the campaign to decrease meat consumption, arguing that the only decrease seen has been in sales on a Monday, dropping by 13.5%.
This drop, Mohran said, was considerably more when compared to other days of the week. He argued that lunchtimes should be “liberated” and people need to have the ‘right to choose,’ as, “prohibition never works.”
Throughout the debate it was made clear that UCLU was not encouraging the removal of vegetarian or vegan options at UCLU cafes, but instead wanted to educate people on the importance, both physically and environmentally, of consuming less meat and then allow for students make their own choice.
These statements seemed to have much support amongst council members; however, the presence of members of the UCLU Vegetarian and Vegan Society at the meeting meant that the motion was not going to be passed without debate.
Imogen Resnick, one of two students who argued for the introduction of Meat Free Monday at UCL in early 2015, was the key source of opposition to the motion. She argued that studies which show decreasing sales are, ‘unprovable’ and based on, ‘shoddy data done last year.’
Furthermore, she said that the Vegetarian and Vegan Society conducted a survey of 100 students, a survey of a similar size to the one that UCLU conducted, which proved the opposite results to those cited by Mohran.
Tensions mounted when Imogen stated that perhaps the issue was not Meat Free Monday, but an issue with the Union simply not attracting customers anymore. After refusing to stop talking on the Chair’s warning, she was warned that if she was to continue she would have to leave the room.
Despite passing a procedural motion to allow both sides to continue debate, the vote went ahead. The initial support on the council was too much for the Vegetarian and Vegan society to counter, and 18 of the 28 people voted to support the motion, with 2 people abstaining.
Imogen left the room in tears, stating that the motion was “passed on bullshit” and César Ferradas, President of the society, said that it was “outrageous [that] UCL is pioneering in sustainability but doesn’t acknowledge one day in the week.”
UCLU announced that UCL would be taking part in Meat Free Mondays early February 2015. The Meat Free Monday campaign began in the US under the title Meatless Monday, and was subsequently brought to the UK by Sir Paul McCartney.
The campaign revolves around the notion that if everyone was able to reduce their meat intake by 15%, which equates to just one day a week, environmental and health benefits would be significant. The motion was passed with 81% of the vote.
This motion comes shortly after dozens of students staged a “die-in” outside the Provost’s office on Monday, campaigning against UCL’s support of fossil fuels.
Featured image: UCL