The University of Coimbra in Lisbon—the oldest university in Portugal established in 1290—will remove beef from all 14 of its cafeterias in January 2020. University of Coimbra chancellor Amílcar Falcão made the announcement to students today, stating that the move will help the university become carbon-neutral by 2030. “We are experiencing a climate emergency and we have to put [the] brakes on this projected environmental catastrophe,” Falcão said. “I think the biggest impact is to make people aware of the problem. What is more dramatic is that world leaders do not understand that the future of the planet and of our young people, our children, and grandchildren is at stake, and that it is too worrying not to warn off the problem, even if they are small gestures.” The school will also remove many plastic items from campus, such as disposable utensils, straws, and water bottles, and promote its “UC Plants” program where students are invited to plant a tree at a botanical garden which will be transferred to areas devastated by fires and storms. 

The University of Coimbra is following in the footsteps of several other schools, including the University of Cambridge and Goldsmiths college, who have pledged to leave beef off their menus. To help schools transition, Humane Society International (HSI) UK has been training university chefs across the United Kingdom in plant-based cooking through its Forward Food program. “Students starting at, or returning to, many of the UK’s top universities can expect to see less meat and more delicious vegan options on menus as the trend for more planet-friendly eating continues,” HSI UK Forward Food Manager Charlie Huson said. “Positive role models like Greta Thunberg have had a huge part to play in educating young people about the impact on the planet of what we put on our plates.” Stateside, a petition urging all schools that are part of the University of California system to ditch meat has gained more than 50,000 supporters.