UBC Undergraduate Research

Less meat campus strategy Gao, Ally (Fang); Gao, Anna; Park, Annie; Verdin, Heather; Wong, Peter


This project focuses on the reduction of meat consumption on University of British Columbia (UBC) campus in regards to reducing food-based greenhouse gas emissions (GHG); particularly the emphasis on beef and lamb. This project works in accordance with the goals set by the UBC Climate Action Plan (CAP) which aims to become a net energy producer by 2050. Previous LFS 450 groups have conducted food life cycle assessment plans that closely examined GHG emission factors to make sustainable recommendations to food purchases for UBC. Our project primarily focused on reasons behind high consumption of beef and lamb, the acceptability of proposed alternative methods to campus consumers, and future recommendations and strategies to food service stakeholders to better reduce meat consumption. We have conducted active research with a focus on sustainable food strategies such as Meatless Mondays, smaller portion sizes of lamb and beef, lower prices but less meat, alternative meat options offering chicken, pork, or fish and lastly, more vegetarian options like tofu, soy or beans. Next, we conducted an in-person survey at the major food service locations to get a response on student preferences and food choices on campus. In addition, we interviewed with UBC food service stakeholder Lillian Zaremba for a better representation of popular food items that are consumed daily and how the food outlets operated in terms of serving lamb and beef. Suggestions made include portion control, better meat alternatives and other alterations were suggested. Our project’s goal is not to eliminate meat on campus which will negatively impact sales, instead we want to maintain consumer preferences in menu items but also offer alternative meat options that are lower in GHG emissions. There were a total of 138 surveyed responses and on average each participant consumed 7.7 meals per week where 27.4% of those meals contained lamb or beef. The suggested interventions were not favored by all participants. The intervention most acceptable to consumers was replacing a greater proportion of lamb and beef with other meat alternatives such as chicken, pork or fish. The second most popular intervention was the reduced portion size of lamb and beef with a reduced price as well. The third and fourth most acceptable option was the increased portion of vegetable substitutes. “Meatless Monday” (a certain day of the week where no meat is served at any food services) posed to be the least favored option among consumers. The top reasons for not choosing vegetarian meals from both the female and male consumers were taste, while secondary reasons varied from preference to price. Also, males consumed more meals on campus compared to females. Students from the faculty of Applied Science consumed a higher number of meals followed by Arts, Sauder, Land and Food Systems and Science. This may be a result of convenience of food services that are nearby offering a higher portion of meat options. However, Sauder students had the highest percentage of meals consumed containing lamb or beef. The majority of participants were mainly first year resident students found at Vanier and Totem Residences who showed a higher consumption of meals on campus due to meal plan options. Given the nature of our study, the recommendations we make are broad in scope and thus future LFS studies should further improve and narrow these recommendations. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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