January has come and gone, along with the trial of Meat Free Monday. So what’s next? Will Meat Free Monday become a permanent scheme on campus?
Meat Free Monday (MFM) was a student campaign created from a combination of ideas that came from different undergraduate societies, PhD students, and Masters student groups, with the help of many volunteers, Greening Imperial, College Catering and the Union. With huge support from College and the Union, over 35 outlets across four campuses took part, including all College and Union outlets, as well as Pieminister and Silwood catering!
Throughout the month, a wide range of events and stalls were put on, highlighting all the different reasons you should eat meat one less day a week. While the main aim of the campaign was to reduce our environmental impact; there are also health benefits to reducing your meat consumption, explained on our stall by Dr Cullimore, and financial benefits if you continued MFM at home, as meat is more expensive than grains and veg. Others interpreted it as a fun challenge, and some took it one step further by giving #veganuary a go. Meanwhile, the Animal Protection & Education Society (APES) highlighted the animal welfare benefits by using virtual reality demonstrations, provided by the Animal Equality charity.
Overall, the campaign was a success at getting students to talk about the idea of MFM. There was buzz online, chatter in cafes, and articles written by you in Felix! Knowing there would be a split in student opinions, MFM was always advertised as a trial, with the final decision to continue or not to continue being left up to you! You voted in the Instagram polls, you filled out the online survey, and you told us your comments.
So what was the decision? Will Meat Free Monday become a permanent campaign?
With 523 people taking part in the survey (69.9% of which stated they were meat eaters), 57.7% of you wished for it to continue, while 40.0% did not and the remainder were impartial. However, the Instagram polls of 200 voters swung the other way, with 53.9% wishing for it not to continue. With no clear winner, it was hard to decide whether to turn the Meat Free Monday trial into a permanent campaign or not. What did stand out in the survey, was the demand for more information about the environmental sustainability of the food options, as 84.7% of students considered the impact of their diet on the environment. Furthermore, talking to students highlighted concerns about the lack of options regularly on campus for vegetarian and vegan dishes, as well as a lack of healthy dishes that had a wide variety.
With all this information, the College Catering service and I have decided not to continue Meat Free Monday, but instead to shift the focus for the remainder of the year to providing a wider range of healthier options (meat and plant based) on campus! Some changes are already being made, such as the introduction of the new salad bar in the Senior Common Room (SCR).
So what do College Catering and I have in plan for you for the rest of the year? Well, get ready for some big changes! Think new, plant-based, sustainable café - a place where you can relax while enjoying fresh, healthy, and, most importantly, delicious meals. Opening in Summer term, inspiration for food options, new service structures, and café layouts is currently being gathered in preparation for this café, with new dishes being trialled in the other outlets to gain student feedback. If you have a dish you love/hate, then let College know by filling out the experience box on the feedback form: imperial.ac.uk/food-and-drink/contact-us. Other ideas being debated include moving the College Cafe hot sandwiches to the JCR, while also adding a salad bar and a rotisserie chicken stand, introducing 24-hour vending machines which contain meals and snacks to help you power through those late night study sessions, or introducing a pizza and pasta cafe on campus! I’ll be keeping you up-to-date regularly, with blog posts and updates on my Union webpage about the exciting progressions!