TSE MAG 26 - Universities, step up to the plate!

April 22, 2024 Environment

This article was published in TSE science magazine, TSE Mag. It is part of the Spring 2024 issue, dedicated to “Climate Revolution”. Discover the full PDF here and email us for a printed copy or your feedback on the mag, there.

Universities are key contributors to recent scientific reports that call for a shift towards plant-based nutrition. However, animal-based food served in canteens is bloating their own environmental footprint. In a Lancet white paper, Nicolas Treich and his coauthors urge universities to lead by example.

By reducing procurement of animal-based food, universities could mitigate their impact on climate change, ecosystem degradation, misallocation of water and land, pandemic risks, air and water pollution, and animal suffering. Plant-based menus could also save money and promote healthier diets.  


  • Ensure at least one affordable, satisfying, and healthy plant-based option every day; optimally, a wide variety of plant products would be offered, in line with evidence-based nutrition recommendations.  
  • Provide diners with information such as food literacy interventions and impact scorecards for dishes.  
  • Encourage dietary shifts through soft measures, such as small price incentives and reducing the animal component in a given dish.  
  • Universities should tap their potential for collective deliberation to win support for harder measures, such as large price incentives or reducing the offer of popular foods.  
  • The principles underlying campus food policy must also be debated. For instance, how are purchasing costs weighed against environmental and health impacts?  
  • To motivate swift and coordinated action, universities should aim to at least halve the consumption of animal-based food in canteens within three years.


Nicolas Treich et al. (2023) - Universities should lead on the plant-based dietary transition - The Lancet Planetary Health