University of Warwick Plant-Based Motion Narrowly Fails, Despite Constant Sabotage By University Committee


Disclaimer: This post reflects solely the opinion of the authors and should not be taken to represent the general views of IPPR’s management/ editorial team or those of fellow authors

  • A motion to put the University of Warwick on track to 100% plant-based catering, was recently defeated by 497 votes to 320, with 29 abstentions.
  • This comes after modifications to the initial motion, proposed 30/11/2021, were made by the university’s liberation and diversity committee. This modification cited only two sources and campaigners were given little time to respond.
  • The proposition for students to vote on was worded incorrectly and only partially corrected during the voting window, with the Student Union chairperson also mocking the campaign.

The motion was initially presented to the university committee in November 2021, demanding a transition to 100% plant-based catering. Over the course of 150 minutes the committee debated the motion whilst citing only two sources. The first source related to the cost of eating plant-based whilst the second related to the potential cultural impacts of a transition. During this time the representatives of plant-based Warwick were given around 10 minutes time to defend their position. The motion was amended to “majority” during this exchange, with a voting window set for 1st-4th February 2022. Fast forward to the vote and the wording of the motion was not as agreed, (see end of this release.) This was only partially corrected after a complaint was lodged by plant-based Warwick students; in the meantime University of Warwick students were being presented with a motion devoid of information and coherence. At one point during the voting window the plant-based Warwick team report being told “We’re gonna have a big fat fry up” by a smirking student union chairperson. Evidently, at every level, The University of Warwick refuses to acknowledge the catastrophic impact serving products like meat, fish, and dairy have on the environment.

Harry Chester, a 21 year old cyber security student at the institution has said “Despite the constant undermining by our student union we managed to make the role our food systems play in climate catastrophe a concern for all at Warwick. We achieved 320 votes, an amazing number given the opposition we faced! We are disappointed the motion was unsuccessful this time, but remain undeterred in our efforts.”

The environmental damage wrought by products like meat, fish, and dairy is indisputable. The UN’s 2019 report is evidence enough of this. Furthermore, Nemecek and Poore give us the raw data on the horrific emissions and land use of the current food system. By continuing to serve these products the University of Warwick is failing their students, both now and in the future. 

To address the concerns of Warwick’s committee, a 2019 BBC article found plant-based eating to result in a lower financial cost than consumption including meat, fish, and dairy. A University of Oxford researcher reports the same. The, absolutely legitimate, concern over the limitation of cultural expression cites an insightful article in which the author details how they balance plant-based eating with their heritage. However the article even states “But of course, it is possible to be vegan and a person of colour.” There is a plethora of indigenous voices that weigh in on plant-based eating, including Dr Margaret Robinson, and find it to be a natural part of their lives apart from Western colonialist traditions.

The issue of culture actually ignores a fundamental part of the motion, as students would be free to bring and consume their own food on campus. The Plant-based university campaign is purely about holding multi million pound institutions to account for their complicity in the climate crisis, not terrorising individual people.

The plant-based Warwick team is considering their next steps, but remain undeterred in their fight for a just and sustainable plant-based catering system in their university.

For further comment or interview please contact:

[email protected] or @plantbasedunis and @plantbasedwarwick on Instagram 

Further Images and Links

Original motion proposal: 

Amendments from 30/11/21: 

Initial motion wording for voters:

The partial corrections, after students asked them to change the words “most” and “selling a greater amount of plant-based products” but they only changed the later and kept “most”:

By Vaania Kapoor,

Vaania Kapoor is the Campaign Liaison for the Plant-Based University Campaign- a campaign asking universities to transition to 100% just and sustainable plant-based catering by the 2023-24 academic year in order to act on the catastrophic climate impacts of industries like meat, dairy, and fishing.

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