Chris Packham supports Plant-Based Universities – prompting critical response from Countryside Alliance

Author: Maria Chiorando

Read Time:   |  6th April 2023

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Chris Packham, who adopted a vegan style several years ago, tweeted his support for the initiative which helps universities transition away from animal foods


Chris Packham has publicly voiced his support for the Plant Based Universities initiative – prompting anger from ‘field sports’ advocacy group the Countryside Alliance.

The initiative supports students nationwide who are pushing for their universities and student unions to adopt plant-based catering in an effort to tackle climate change.

TV presenter Chris took to Twitter following news that a majority of Birmingham University attendees had voted for 100 per cent vegan menus in Student’s Guild outlets.

It becomes the fourth university in the UK to vote to implement similar measures in recent months, following Cambridge, Stirling, and Queen Mary University of London

Chris shared the story alongside his own caption, which said: “If you are smart you’ll read the message loud and clear. Change is happening… Top work.”


Birmingham University

Ismael Rodriguez Foronda ia Plant-Based Universities Birmingham campaigner and the Guild’s Environmental and Ethical Officer-elect.

Speaking about Birmingham University’s motion in a statement sent to Vegan Food & Living, he said: “This vote is a victory for the climate, and a demonstration of an urgent call for systematic change.

“Students have spoken and said that we must take urgent action against the climate crisis. We hope other universities continue to follow suit.

“This motion is a push to secure the future of our planet, to the benefit of all. We fully support farmers, who are increasingly being negatively impacted by climate change themselves.

“The future of our planet lies in a move away from animal farming toward a plant-based food system and rewilding.”

Chris Packham and the Countryside Alliance respond

However, despite Plant Based Universities and Chris Packham’s pleasure at the motion, it was not well received by all – with the Countryside Alliance criticising the plans for ‘discriminating’ against people over dietary choices.

The Countryside Alliance (CA) which was set up in 1997, is known by many for promoting ‘field sport’ methods of killing animals including hunting, shooting, and fishing.

It applied for charitable status in 2017, but according to the Charity Commission, it was denied  ‘as it is not established for exclusively charitable purposes for the public benefit’.

In addition, ‘some of the research published by the Alliance appears to be promoting particular activities or points of view rather than being balanced educational research’, according to the Commission. It has since set up a charitable arm, the Countryside Alliance Foundation.

Criticising Birmingham University’s vote in a now-deleted tweet, the CA wrote: “How many students actually voted for [the motion] though…Thankfully there are SO many wonderful outlets across Birmingham that serve delicious meat and dairy products, which don’t discriminate against people based on their dietary choices.”

The organisation deleted the tweet and replaced it with a similar message, with an additional few words at the end which read “and support [British] farmers.”

Plant Based Universities shared the updated tweet, alongside the caption: “Quickly! Delete the tweet, we forgot to pretend we support British farmers!”


The Countryside Alliance deleted and replaced a tweet about the motion. Source: Twitter

The Countryside Alliance deleted and replaced a tweet about the motion. Source: Twitter

Edinburgh University

The CA’s tweet follows a recent vote by Edinburgh University voting against a motion to implement 100 per cent plant-based food on campus.

Taking to Twitter, the CA described the vote as ‘a victory for common sense, freedom of choice and farming’.

However, speaking about the decision, Emily Kemp, 19, a member of the campaign, said the group was undeterred and would continue to campaign.

She said: “This is a setback in our strive for climate justice, but not one we will allow to stop us. Going plant-based is a step that must be taken; it is only a shame that it will not happen sooner.

“If Edinburgh’s students are so far unconvinced that animal agriculture is wrecking our planet and would rather take the words  of those with a vested interest in concealing the truth, then we will continue to work to  change that.”

Keen to help tackle the climate crisis? Reduce your food carbon footprint with this vegan meal plan

Featured image © Roberto Ricciuti via Getty Images


Written by

Maria Chiorando

Maria is an editor and journalist. Her work has been published by the Huffington Post, the Guardian, TechnoBuffalo, Plant Based News, and Kent on Sunday among other national and regional titles.

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