Cheese sandwiches, satay, soup with meatballs: RUG caterers do not offer a particularly vegan-friendly range of food options. But because meat production is so hard on the environment, the Faculty of Philosophy is now trying to shift the status quo by only offering plant-based foods. If people like it, the other faculties might follow suit.
‘Philosophy currently only offers plant-based foods’, says student Yorick Karseboom. ‘That doesn’t mean meat will disappear. Our basic range will be plant-based food. Anyone who wants meat needs to specifically ask for it.’
Yorick worked with lecturer Andrea Sangiacomo to switch the faculty catering to plant-based food. They organised an informal meeting, he says, and ‘tried to show that plant-based foods are the best option.’
Sangiacomo points to the online campaign #PlantPoweredCommunity ‘I used it to jumpstart the initiative at the Faculty of Philosophy’, he says. ‘We want to raise awareness of sustainable food in public spaces.’
The pair tried to avoid using the word ‘vegan’ in their campaign. ‘People interpret the term in all kinds of ways’, says Sangiacomo. ‘We prefer the term plant-based, because it signifies that the essential nutrients in the food comes from plants.’
Karseboom agrees. ‘It’s such a controversial topic. But we haven’t made all that many changes. We’re just trying to raise awareness. Veganism can be such a trigger word. People think we’re trying to indoctrinate them and take their food from them.’
‘We like it’, says professor John Hoeks, was also closely involved in the plant-based plan and liaises with the catering company, Beijk. ‘We talked to Beijk about vegan catering as early as last summer. We put a lot of effort into this. We even organised a vegan sandwich tasting. We’re very positive about the whole thing.’
There’s no proper plan for the rest of the university to turn to only plant-based foods, says RUG spokesperson Jorien Bakker. ‘But our catering company offers a broad range. They have meat, fish, and vegan products. That’s important to us. The Faculty of Philosophy is a pioneer. We’re interested to see how it works out, and based on that we’ll re-evaluate. We have to wait and see.’