Psychology students Sara and Anaelle of the Erasmus Food Lab set up the petition to show coffee vendors that there’s sufficient demand for vegan alternatives. Sara: “Walking through town, you can find alternatives to cow’s milk almost everywhere. Except on campus: one of the few options you have is grabbing a 4 euro cup of coffee at Starbucks. The machines and cafeterias only sell cow’s milk.”
According to Sara and Anaelle, there are a number of reasons why students don’t want to drink cow’s milk. Dairy production has a massive environmental footprint, for example. “But what a lot of people also forget is that by exclusively offering cow’s milk, you actually exclude a large group of people,” says Sara. “Lactose intolerance is a common condition, especially among people from East Asia. As an inclusive university, it is important to at any rate offer a range of different options – whatever reason students might have to pass up on ordinary milk.”
Walking across campus, we find several companies that already offer non-dairy alternatives. Erasmus Pavilion, Starbucks and New Fork, for example, all sell soy, oat or almond milk for a modest surcharge.
Spar takes note
After seeing the petition, campus supermarket Spar also decided to start offering soy-based cappuccinos and lattes through its well-known vending machines. Local manager Joren Sikkema: “The petition popped up in our WhatsApp group, and we decided to act on it straight away. We refill our machines with fresh milk every day. So we decided to reserve one of them for soy milk. We’ve already sourced the milk, so all that’s left to do is negotiate the price with our supplier.”