As a result of a union council vote, the sale of beef in uea(su) has been banned. Consequently, Unio, shop(su) and bar(su) will no longer sell products with beef in them in an attempt to reduce the university’s environmental footprint. Unfortunately, this decision was made without sufficient consultation to the wider student body. It’s an issue that affects all students who study and work at UEA – they all should have had a say in this motion. Furthermore, less than 90 students were present and the vote only passed by 1%, clear evidence of how torn the student body is about this issue.

As a student who attended that particular Union Council meeting, I believed that the motion wouldn’t pass – there were a few strong arguments against the prohibition of beef sales. Before the vote, one student asked if the sale of quinoa and avocados would also be prohibited, as they too have a large, destructive impact upon the environment. Secondly, two students argued that those who can only eat kosher and halal meat would be restricted even further if the sale of beef products on campus was banned.  I agreed with all these arguments against the ban and voted against the motion.

Following the passing of the motion to ban the sale of beef on campus, I would be interested to know if the SU will be bringing in substitutions for the number of products that will no longer be sold. It’s ridiculously unfair for there to be less options around campus for those that already face dietary restrictions. One perspective that wasn’t discussed in Union Council was the impact that this motion would have on local businesses. UEA is based in Norfolk; this motion will have a detrimental effect on the business of farms across the county.  We need to break out of our student bubble and see the wider effect upon the Norfolk community. 

The much better solution would be reducing the amount of single use plastic that is used within uea(su) outlets.  Yes, there are reusable cups in the bar and a reduction in drink prices for those who use keep cups in Unio, but so much more could be done. One student’s suggestion to tax beef would be infinitely better than what the SU has decided. Personally, I agree with this idea because tax could be expanded to address other environmentally harmful products such as quinoa, avocados and plant-based milk alternatives.

Obviously, I support improving UEA’s environmental impact, but more students should have been consulted before such a significant decision was made. This is a dark day for UEA’s democratic process.


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