Since the beginning of the university year, the canteen at the University of Luzern has offered only vegetarian dishes. Meat, including fish, are now absent from the menu. Luzern is the first university in Switzerland to make such a move as a way to reduce its environmental impact.
According to a report by the newspaper 20 Minutes, students at the university have not objected to the change. However, the same cannot be said of some in the meat industry.
The Swiss meat association and the Swiss farmers union have both objected to their products being removed from the menu. According to Ruedi Hadorn of the Swiss meat association, it is unacceptable to limit the consumption choices of responsible young citizens. And, in a letter, the Swiss farmers union questioned whether it made sense for a university to ban foods in such a radical manner.
Lukas Portmann, a spokesperson for the university said the change was intended to be educational and form part of the university’s drive to be more sustainable. Those who wish to eat meat can still buy it at other places outside the campus or bring it from home and reheat it in microwaves provided for this purpose, said Portmann.
In a post the Swiss meat association wrote that it plans a broad-based intervention via the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG).
Government agricultural agencies, such as FOAG are typically beset with conflicts of interest. On one hand they work closely with local food producers to help them produce food. However, at the same time they are often given the task of providing nutritional advice to the public, as is the case in Switzerland. This can make it difficult for these organisations to provide objective nutritional advice that reflects research showing the health benefits of reducing the consumption of some products.