“Starting next quarter, staff will only be able to order vegetarian catering”, the university wrote in a press release on 6 February in which it acknowledged the climate emergency. Students and staff will also be ‘encouraged’ to opt for vegetarian food on campus more often, according to the announcement. So are croquette sandwiches now taboo? And what do we know about these plans? Five questions about the consequences of the climate emergency declared by EUR.

Will staff still be able to order meat via the catering service as of 1 April?

Yes, says Michel Flaton, general manager at campus caterer Vitam. “Vitam’s standard catering on campus has been vegetarian for years, but meat can be requested.” According to Flaton, meat is still popular in lunches and snacks, especially croquette sandwiches. “The demand is still there, so we supply it. These agreements are in our contract with the university.”

Nevertheless, the university is switching to vegetarian catering on all occasions via an intermediate step. Managers are responsible for ensuring that happens. This has been decided by the deans and the Executive Board, explains Mariecke van der Glas, Sustainability programme manager.

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When will staff no longer be able to order meat via the catering service?

The first step will be taken some time in the second quarter of this year. The exact date has yet to be decided, Van der Glas says. “This first step will be to stop ordering beef and pork for lunches and snacks offered by the catering service. Both of these have a high environmental impact. Milk and buttermilk orders will be discontinued as well, since the production of milk is related to the production of beef.” Later on, other types of meat like chicken, turkey and goat will possibly be added to the list of products that can no longer be ordered.

Because EUR cannot and doesn’t want to simply ignore existing contracts with its caterers, staff is asked to take their responsibility. Meat options will still be displayed in the system. “Managers are asked to monitor what can and cannot be ordered. Those who are authorised to place orders will receive instructions from us.” The second step – towards 100% vegetarian – will follow shortly thereafter, also in the second quarter.

Will it soon no longer be permitted to eat meat at the university?

“We’re not going to stop you at the door to check whether you’ve brought a beef sandwich from home”, Van der Glas says. “We aren’t imposing anything. If you want to eat beef, that’s up to you. The measures apply to the catering options that the university pays for. If EUR pays the piper, then EUR calls the tune.”

The university will offer discounts to encourage students and staff to eat vegetarian food. How will that work?

The discounts will not apply to vegetarian options, as originally announced, but to vegan meals. The promotion will last three months – and only at the two Vitam restaurants in Mandeville and Tinbergen. “The large and small vegan meals will be offered at a lower price during those three months”, Flaton says. How much lower has not yet been determined, nor has the exact start date of the project, Van der Glas adds. The proposal is currently being reviewed by the Executive Board, so the promotion will begin as soon as it has made a decision.

Will the campus be completely vegan by 2030?

That is still the plan. “The two measures are the first step on the path towards 2030”, Van der Glas explains. “We want to make it easier for consumers and suppliers by gradually changing the available options. Right now, we’re looking at what works. The aim of the discounts is to introduce people to plant-based foods. If it doesn’t work, we won’t give up on our 2030 target. The goal won’t change, but how exactly we get there might. We’re in a climate crisis.”

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