Berlin’s University Canteens Go Almost Meat-Free As Students Prioritise Climate Change | TOTUM
Ben Hayward August 30th
2021

From this winter, Berlin’s university canteens will be switching to almost exclusively meatless menus following pressure from students. 

The 34 canteens across the German capital will see a huge reduction in meat and fish options on menus, as the institutions attempt to reduce the impact their food choices have on the climate. 

The canteens at four different universities will offer a menu that is 68% vegan, 28% vegetarian, and 2% fish-based, reports the Guardian, with just one single meat option offered four days a week.

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Meat-free choices students can look forward to will include buckwheat and spelt bowls topped with grilled sweet potatoes, marinated beetroot and sesame seeds, or pasta bakes with tomato and cheese.

“We developed a new nutritional concept mainly because students have repeatedly approached us with the request for a more climate-friendly offer at their canteens,” said Daniela Kummle of Studierendenwerk, the organisation providing economic, social, health and cultural support to students enrolled at Berlin’s higher education institutions.

Following years of rising demand, it is estimated that between 30-50% of the menus at university canteens and cafeterias currently consist of vegetarian or vegan options says Stefan Grob, a spokesperson for Deutsches Studentenwerk, the umbrella organisation of student support providers. “But in Berlin, you have a critical mass,” he says.

In 2019, Berlin’s universities provided in the region of 5.6 million meals to students through their canteens, with a survey from the same year finding that  that 13.5% of Berlin’s student population described themselves as keeping a vegan diet, with a further 33% saying they were vegetarians.

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Berlin’s Free University has had a canteen selling purely vegetarian food since 2010, called Veggie No 1, while a vegan-only canteen, Veggie No 2, opened in 2019.

“The great success of the vegetarian and vegan canteens have made it clear that students’ consumer behaviour is changing,” said Kummle. “There’s a clear trend towards fewer animal-based products.”

The move forms part of universities’ climate protection measures with Humboldt University planning to become climate neutral by 2030, and the Technical University aiming to reach the same target by 2045, while over 300 members of staff across both institutions committed themselves to forego job-related short-distance flights for journeys under 1,000km (621 miles).

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