Greener catering at Leiden University

Short Description:

Plant-based foods taste delicious, are very healthy and good for animals and the environment. This is why many university caterers are moving towards a more plant-based menu with options like hummus, vegan sandwiches, veggie burgers, and non-dairy milk alternatives. The demand for these types of foods is growing rapidly, especially among the student population. At Leiden university however, the vegan menu options are still very limited. This petition aims to show the demand for more plant-based food in the daily menus and the introduction of 'Meatless Monday'. We want to stimulate green change in the Leiden menu, not just for vegetarians and vegans, but for everyone who likes a tasty, healthy and sustainable diet!

 

Full Petition:

Dear Leiden University,

 

We, the undersigned, urge Leiden University and the Leiden University catering company to follow the positive development at Dutch universities to provide more sustainable vegan food in campus restaurants. There is a clear consensus on the relationship between animal agriculture and climate change, with other adverse impacts of rearing animals for food ranging from deforestation to soil degradation to ocean acidification to biodiversity loss and far beyond. Eating a plant-based meal should be possible for anyone wishing to do so, and as a university oriented towards sustainability LU should provide vegan options for those of us wishing to eat vegan on campus. Clear labeling would also be useful, to help eaters identify vegan foods. In addition, we want to stimulate all students and staff to eat vegetarian or vegan once a week with a 'Meatless Monday'. Such gentle nudging tactics have been shown to be very effective for promoting sustainable eating.

 

The LU Environmental Policy Plan 2016-2020 briefly mentions increasing vegetarian options for vegetarians, but in our opinion this is far too limited. Firstly, the typical current vegetarian options in the campus restaurants are still heavy in animal products such as cheese, milk, cream and eggs. There are very few truly plant-based vegan options like sandwiches, hot snacks, and non-dairy milk alternatives. Secondly, the real gain for the environment is made when not just vegetarians and vegans, but all students and staff start eating the plant-based meals. After all, the vegans are already eating this way, with food they bring from home because the restaurants do not offer it. Caterers at other Dutch universities (EUR, UU, UvA, RUG) are quickly starting to offer more delicious plant-based foods that appeal to all eaters, not just to dedicated vegans. Utrecht University has recently introduced a Meatless Monday. We very much wish for Leiden to take the lead in this development, rather than lag behind as it does now.

 

We would like to see at least one plant-based sandwich or wrap, one vegan soup and one hot vegan snack provided at each catering facility on campus, and also at least one warm vegan meal at the restaurants that serve dinner. This way vegans and strict vegetarians can have an adequate meal instead of having to bring their own and non-vegans have the choice to vary their diet with these options. The added benefit of plant-based food is that it also accommodates customers with dairy and egg allergies and those with religiously motivated dietary restrictions, such as kosher and halal. The change we are asking for is not radical, it will not alienate students or force anyone to consume foods they do not want to consume. What it will do, however, is enable those who want to include plant-based options in their diet, to do so on campus. We are asking Leiden University to live up to its promise of sustainability and extend it to bridge the gap between the present and a future in which we are able to choose for a plant-based meal in the cafeteria if we so desire.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

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Alex Brandsen

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