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No more Meat-Free Mondays at Wadham

Wadham's SU split over motion to end vegetarian-only dinners
Andrew Grey on Thursday 26th January 2012
Photograph: Mel Gurney

The Student Union at Wadham has voted to lobby college to abolish Meat-Free Mondays.

Since 2010 only vegetarian dinners have been available in the Wadham dining hall on Monday evenings. This week the SU voted by a slender majority of 44 to 39 to withdraw their support.

Wadhamite Tristan Dobson, who proposed the motion, explained to the SU that attempts to improve the standard of the college’s food had failed. He linked this to the high proportion of vegetarian meals in hall, emphasising that this was not just a “lad-attack” on Wadham.

Dobson further argued that the supposed environmental benefit of Meat-Free Mondays was misleading. He suggested that vegetables were often sourced from providers further afield than meat suppliers.

The motion also noted that other colleges, including Christ Church, New College and University College, had previously dropped similar policies.

However other students described the motion as “vague” and suggested that the environmental concern was merely a “smokescreen.” Several students pointed out that Meat-Free Mondays only affected one meal each week. One student added, “Those in support of the motion did not give any evidence or statistics in their arguments, and they did not seem to have a problem with that.” They described the motion as a “farce.”

Students supporting the motion asserted people’s rights to eat meat. One student objected, however, that meat was not a fundamental right as many universities do not even cater for their students.

There was also anger that the Wadham football team mailing list had been used to encourage non-regular SU members to attend the meeting. This email stated, “Lads: TODAY AT 4 PM, I’m afraid to say, the vegan rainbow cake-loving wankers are gonna be out in force!! We need EVERYONE to come to the meeting today, as if it doesn’t pass now we’re gonna [be] stuck playing find-the-cashew-nut in our shit veggie meals every Monday!”

One Wadham student responded, “It’s sad that Wadham’s reputation as a friendly college is being compromised. We’re known for being inclusive.” She interpreted the reference to “vegan rainbow cake-loving wankers” as a reference to one JCR member.

English student Barbara Speed stated, “The whole thing seems to have been blown out of proportion – it should be about what the majority of students want to eat, not a war between two groups of students.”

The Student Union Committee must now take the request to college staff, with whom the decision rests.