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Cover issue 15

Mansfield College Top Veggie Choice at Oxford

Mansfield College, Oxford, has won the award for the best Oxford College offering vegetarian and vegan food.

The poll, launched at the beginning of Michaelmas term, invited members of the university to rate Oxford Colleges according to their provision of vegetarian food. Mansfield College tops the poll, with Worcester College coming second, and Kellogg College coming third.

The worst colleges were Magdalen College, followed by St John’s College, and Jesus College.

Over 200 people voted and Mansfield was the clear favourite. The ranking of the Colleges can be found here.

The initiative, based on the well-known Norrington Table for ranking colleges according to their examination results, was pioneered by the Oxford University Animal Ethics Society.

Society president Tobias Thornes (Oriel College) said: “We all hope that this will encourage Oxford Colleges to improve their provision of vegetarian food. After all many colleges have fixed catering fees, which means students have to pay for the food whether they like it or not.”

All College Bursars were invited to state whether they provide vegetarian and vegan options, indicate whether they have chefs trained in vegetarian and vegan food, and supply a sample menu.

“Sadly not all the college bursars replied to our emails,” said the Revd Professor Andrew Linzey, the society’s senior member, “and we received a disappointing reply from the chair of the Domestic Bursars’ Committee, who said that ‘Some colleges have commented they don’t much care where they come in the proposed table.’” His letter can be found here.

One member of the University summed up the reactions of many students:

Colleges who don’t provide clearly marked, nutritious, and readily available vegetarian and vegan alternatives, as a matter of course, need to get with the times. Providing good [food] for their students on an equal basis, whatever the diet, is fundamental to their health, and their happiness at Oxford. Hopefully, with the Veggie Norrington Table such discrepancies in hall standards will become more apparent, and under-performing colleges will be able work with their students, as well as other colleges, to make their food, and hence life at their colleges, much better!

The results were independently calibrated by former Oxford Student Max Elder and will be the subject of a research paper by Dr Kay Peggs, Honorary Professor of Sociology at Kingston University.

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