The menu change was initiated by behavioural economist Jan Stoop, himself a vegan. He hopes his initiative will ‘subtly improve’ the faculty’s ‘carbon foodprint’. Stoop hit on the idea during a seminar. “They had prepared a lunch for twenty to twenty-five persons. I calculated how much damage that would do to the environment. It turned out that such lunches, featuring both meat and dairy products, cost eight bath tubs’ worth of water and fourteen kilos of carbon dioxide more than a completely plant-based lunch.”

Not entirely vegan

The additional bath tubs and kilos prompted Stoop to take action. He then sought support for his plan at the faculty. “I asked fifteen professors to support my proposal. Fourteen of them did. Just so that we’re clear on this, none of them is a vegan. After that, I submitted my proposal to the dean (Philip Hans Franses – ed.).”

Stoop emphasises that people can still order meat if they want to, but that meat-based meals will no longer be the default option. “Back in the old days, people who were lactose intolerant or allergic to gluten had to send an email to the faculty’s secretary to ask if someone could please set aside a special meal for them. From now on, meat eaters will have to do the same.”