More than 850 academics have signed an open letter to university vice-chancellors, catering managers, and student union presidents for colleges in both the UK and Ireland to go 100% plant-based.
About 60 of the signatures came from academics at Trinity College Dublin and the University of Galway.
The open letter was organized by the student-led Plant-Based Universities campaign, which began in late 2021 to tackle the “climate and nature crisis”.
“A growing body of academic literature is exploring and proving the benefits of adopting a safe, secure, and plant-based food system,” the letter states.
It draws on research from Joseph Poore and Thomas Nemecek, Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumerswhich produced a meta-analysis of around 38,000 farms across the globe.
The research concluded that the production of animal products is causing “substantial associated environmental costs”.
Administrator at the School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin, Dr. Tania Bezak is among one of the academics who has provided a signature.
Dr. Bezak said that introducing plant-based catering, with the goal of becoming 100% plant-based, will “improve” the ongoing climate crisis.
“Hopefully this solution will spread to all of Ireland. And hopefully more solutions will be developed and put in place to save our planet,” Dr. Bezak told Agriland.
Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) Livestock chair, Brendan Golden said: “It’s just not feasible to go fully plant-based. There isn’t enough land in the world to do that.
“If people are serious about meeting climate targets, it’s about everything they do in their lives. There seems to be some big focus on food and agriculture, as if that’s going to solve the whole thing. I’m afraid it’s not as simple as that.”
Golden added that he doesn’t think it would affect Irish agriculture in the long-term.
“Students may do that in college, but they will go to supermarkets and do their own thing afterwards. I wouldn’t be hugely worried about it affecting Irish agriculture, but it’s more so that certain people think pushing these agendas will solve the world when it won’t,” Golden said.
“Too much of one thing is no good for anything. There’s truth in that and balance should be the key thing here,” he added.