officer blog


hamish williams

campaigns & democracy

mooooving on: what's happening with beef

Young people and students are becoming ever more concerned with the growing climate crisis. Earlier this year UEA has declared a climate and biodiversity emergency.  Over the last couple of years your Students’ Union has introduced a number of measure to improve our carbon footprint, which includes:  reusable plastic cups in the bars, transferring to LED lighting in the building and venue, our zero waste shopping option in grab n go, supporting the Meat Free Monday Campaign and increasing the range and availability of vegan products. 

On the 7th November, Union Council discussed and passed a motion for the union to cease the sale of beef products in Union outlets and lobby the University to do the same in theirs.  This motion will go to the December Trustee Board for final consideration. The Trustee Board will look at the risk related to Union Council motions and have the ability to overturn decisions if they believe they are damaging to the SU. Currently beef products represent less than 0.1% of union revenue. Many items are replaceable with alternative products. 

Researchers suggest that the following would contribute to a positive environmental impact and why beef is a negative contributor environmentally:

(1) Reduce animal product consumption,

(2) Replace meat, and especially meat from ruminant sources, with more efficient protein sources, and

(3) Reintegrate livestock into diverse agro ecological production systems.


  • Research demonstrates that beef production is a critical contributor to climate change; beef requires 28 times more land to produce than pork or chicken, and compared to plant food stapes (potatoes, wheat, rice etc) beef uses 160 times more land, and 11 times more water per calorie.[1]
  •  Greenhouse-gas emissions from the agriculture sector account for about 22% of global total emissions; this contribution is similar to that of industry and greater than that of transport. Livestock production (including transport of livestock and feed) accounts for nearly 80% of the sector’s emissions.[2]
  • Assuming a 40% increase in global population by 2050 and no advance in livestock related greenhouse-gas reduction practices, global meat consumption would need to fall to an average of 90 g per person per day just to stabilise emissions from this sector. Such a decrease would require a substantial reduction of meat consumption in industrialised countries and constrained growth in demand in developing countries, especially of red meat from ruminant (methane-producing) animals.[3]

It is important to remember that 90 of your representatives voted upon this motion. This includes society and club union councillors and reps, faculty and course reps, as well your elected full time and part time officers. The way you can propose a motion is through your union councillor or elected rep that has a place on Council. This has to be submitted 10 days in advance and is checked by a group of students that make up the Democratic Procedures Committee to ensure it is in accordance with our bye-laws (the documents that govern us as a Students’ Union). We then have the meeting and union councillors have the opportunity to debate the policy and then in voted on!

Have a look here to see how your diet effects the wider carbon footprint! It’s also worth remembering any student is welcome to propose a motion to Union Council to reverse this decision, and can do so with support from us within the office. Just get in touch! The next meeting is on the 5th December, LT2, 7pm if you would like to attend. Any student is welcome to come but only union councillors are able to vote. Additionally, if you have any concerns or questions about the motion that passed last Thursday, please do get in touch at or pop into the office and we can have a chat!




Gabriel Ward
3:59pm on 24 Nov 19 It's wrong & undemocratic that our Student representatives passed this without consulting us (the students), and without any real forethought, discussion or debate. It's a disgrace to the democracy of the university. There ought to be a referendum on the matter, with pamphlets & information (for & from both sides of the debate) made available.
Please log in to comment.