They were once regarded as staples of the students’ canteen. But now burgers, lasagne, chilli and tacos have been taken off the menu at a London university which has banned beef as part of its efforts to fight climate change.
From next month, Goldsmiths, University of London has said it will remove all beef product from its campus shops and cafes. Students will also face a 10p levy on bottles of water and single-use plastic cups when the academic year starts to discourage use of the products.
It is part of a new drive by the university to become carbon neutral by 2025, which involves building more solar panels and switching to a “clean” energy supplier.
Academic courses will also be reviewed to give students more opportunities to study climate change as part of their degree.
Professor Frances Corner, the new Warden of Goldsmiths said that "declaring a climate emergency cannot be empty words".
The beef ban is the first announcement she has made since taking over as the head of the university earlier this month.
Prof Corner, who used to be head of the London College of Fashion for, has championed ethical designs and describes herself as a “fashion activist”.
She has previously warned of the dangers of wearing fake fur, arguing that it makes wearing real fur “culturally acceptable”.
Prof Corner said: “The growing global call for organisations to take seriously their responsibilities for halting climate change is impossible to ignore.
“Though I have only just arrived at Goldsmiths, it is immediately obvious that our staff and students care passionately about the future of our environment and that they are determined to help deliver the step change we need to cut our carbon footprint drastically and as quickly as possible.”
The beef ban was praised by climate change activists but elsewhere it was criticised as an "an overly simplistic approach".
Stuart Roberts, vice president of the National Farmers' Union, said there was a "lack of understanding or recognition between British beef and beef produced elsewhere".
He said that the union has been encouraging public institutions such as schools and universities to back British farming and source locally-produced food.
"Tackling climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time but singling out one food product is clearly an overly simplistic approach," he said.
"Our standards of beef production in the UK are among the most efficient in the world, with British livestock grazing in extensive, grass-based systems - meaning a greenhouse gas footprint 2.5 times smaller than the global average.
"Anyone wanting to play their part in helping our planet amid the current climate change challenge we're all facing should buy British, locally produced beef reared to some of the highest and environmentally sustainable standards in the world.”
Goldsmiths is the latest university to alter its menu in an attempt to cut its carbon footprint. Cambridge University’s catering services has not served any beef or lamb since 2016 is instead “promoting the consumption of more vegetarian and vegan foods”.
Meanwhile, Ulster University, the University of East Anglia and a number of colleges at Oxford and Cambridge have introduced “meat free Mondays”.
Dave Gorman, director of sustainability at Edinburgh University, said that currently 40 per cent of the menu options in campus cafes are vegetarian or vegan and they aim to increase this to 50 per cent.
Westminster University has a “part time carnivore loyalty card”, whereby students who have purchased four vegetarian meals in the canteen get a free vegetarian meal.
Baroness Jan Royall, head of Somerville, said she wants to “change the culture” of the college to make sure it is “welcoming for all”.