Berlin university canteens are going almost meat-free to prioritise the climate.

From October, the 34 canteens and cafes catering at four different universities will offer a 68 per cent vegan, 28 per cent vegetarian, and 2 per cent fish-based menu, with a single meat option offered four days a week after students asked for more environmentally sustainable meals.

“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, in an interview with the Guardian.

It comes after a 2019 survey found that 13.5 per cent of Berlin’s student population described themselves as keeping a vegan diet, compared with just 1.6 per cent in the country as a whole, while a further 33 per cent said they were vegetarians.

Meanwhile, Berlin’s Free University has had a canteen selling only vegetarian food since 2010, called Veggie No 1. A vegan-only canteen, called Veggie No 2, opened its doors 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.”

Vegetarian meals included on the new menu will include buckwheat and spelt bowls topped with grilled sweet potatoes, marinated beetroot and sesame seeds, and pasta bakes with tomato and cheese.

If these canteens become popular, it will show that students are voting for beets with their feet.

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