A campaign calling on universities in both the UK and Ireland to introduce 100% plant-based catering is “nothing short of madness”, according to Independent TD, Michael Fitzmaurice.
Deputy Fitzmaurice, said today (Saturday, September 9) that he strongly opposes calls, including by a group from the University of Galway, to implement only plant-based catering at third level colleges.
“Frankly, this petition is nothing short of madness.
“What planet are we living on that anyone thinks this is a workable or even desirable idea? Universities should be melting pots of diverse and tolerant ideas, not echo chambers of radical, exclusionary policy,” the Independent TD for Roscommon-Galway said.
The campaign revolves around an open letter which was mottod by Plant-Based Universities – a student led campaign – that wants universities to “transition to 100% just and sustainable plant-based catering” as part of a climate change initiative.
It has published a letter to university vice-chancellors, catering managers, and student union presidents calling on them to support their campaign – about 60 academics at Trinity College Dublin and the University of Galway are supporting it.
However Deputy Fitzmaurice said he believes universities are “not a place to enforce dietary restrictions but to foster learning and diverse thinking.”
“Mass shifts in human behavior, like the one this petition advocates, could have disastrous consequences on both our economy and our ecosystems.
“We don’t live in a vacuum, and each action has a knock-on effect,” he warned.
He said instead it should all be based around freedom of choice.
“If an individual chooses to abstain from meat, or fruit, or sweets, so be it.
“But labeling people who don’t as somehow responsible for doing harm to the environment is simply nonsense.
“The buzzword these days is choice, and I’m all for choice. Freedom of choice, not these my way or the highway bully-boy tactics,” Deputy Fitzmaurice said.
He has called on the University of Galway to consider the “broader implications” of implementing 100% plant based catering and has also invited students and academics to have “a more balanced discussion on how to address these issues in a practical and inclusive manner”.