Towards A Veggie Meinesz Canteen

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A collaborative petition initiative of Geoscience students, teachers and the Green Office Food Committee for a more sustainable canteen at Vening Meinesz.

Utrecht University has committed to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals and wants to become carbon neutral by 2030. For example, the Executive Board has invested 35,000 euros to make travelling by train more attractive and has allocated 2 million euros for high quality audio-visual equipment to make it possible to attend conferences remotely. In addition, the university President Anton Pijpers said that Utrecht University will commit towards taking action to fight climate change at the Pathways to Sustainability Conference 2020.

Flying to conferences is a major source of CO2 emissions. Another source of emissions is the food we eat. In order to meet Utrecht University’s target of becoming carbon neutral by 2030, every step towards reaching this goal counts. An easy step starts with the food on our plates. Together with the Green Office, Sodexo, and Future Food Lab, the Educatorium Canteen has already initiated first steps to becoming a more sustainable canteen. The Future Food Lab, for example, shows how delicious and cheap vegan, vegetarian, seasonal and local food can be!

However, other canteens lag behind. In fact, the Vening Meinesz canteen has moved backwards, by providing mainly meat dishes since the canteen was put into operation. Sadly, due to the lack of healthy and tasty vegetarian and vegan options in the VM canteen, many staff members are often unable to practice more sustainable and ethical consumption. This is especially important given that this canteen serves the Faculty of Geosciences, which is striving to drive the societal sustainability transitions needed for our post-carbon future. This should not be the case for us. As members of the Faculty of Geosciences, we are the leaders in the university’s sustainability transition. As members of TNO, we are leaders in the professional world in finding innovative ways to facilitate sustainable transitions. Therefore, the vegetarian and vegan options in our canteen must be increased in order to show everyone in the university that we are serious in embracing this responsibility and opportunity bestowed onto us. Given that the canteen is currently closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, this may be a good opportunity to generate an interest list for Sodexo, so that they can come back from this situation with a new canteen dining opportunity, and so that you can come back to your workplace after this pandemic, and experience a new, more sustainable dining experience - but we need your help!

The transition towards sustainability requires both a top-down and bottom-up approach, and hence relies on collaborative action from individuals, collectives, and the leading management. This transition towards sustainability is not for the university’s self-image, but is a necessity to safeguard this planet for the next generation, including the students who are educated under the roof of Utrecht University. To the educators of the next generation, from the Faculty of Geosciences and TNO, it is obvious that the Netherlands is extremely vulnerable to sea level rise and land subsidence, among other climate change related impacts. Tangible action must begin now.

We believe that the Faculty of Geosciences and TNO can take the lead for the whole university by showing Sodexo, our current food supplier, that sustainable food is wanted, desired, and needed at the Vening Meinesz canteen!

By signing below, you agree that the Vening Meinesz canteen should shift to serving vegetarian and vegan options as its dominant meal type, so as to set a true example for sustainable on-campus consumption.

With your online signatures, we will present this list to Sodexo in order to show them that if they make this transition, they will have the support of the staff of both TNO and Utrecht University.

From Concerned students,
Droovi de Zilva (Faculty Council Geosciences) - d.b.k.dezilva@students.uu.nl
Brandon Whitley - b.s.whitley@students.uu.nl
Julia Fritzsche - j.k.fritzsche@students.uu.nl

Important References

UU Strategic Plan:
https://www.uu.nl/sites/default/files/ubd_strategic_plan_utrecht_university_2016-2020.pdf

Mission Statement Faculty of Geosciences:
https://www.uu.nl/en/organisation/faculty-of-geosciences/about-the-faculty/mission-strategy