As part of Viva!’s Scary Dairy campaign we visited six universities across freshers' week, bringing with us a colourful stall, our latest leaflets and, most importantly, FREE milkshakes (in four dairy-free varieties) to sweeten the deal – Breakfast Booster, Salted Caramel, Chocolate Cookie and Protein Crunch. What student would say no to a free milkshake like that?
We visited Sheffield, Manchester, Nottingham, Southampton and Cambridge and engaged in a whopping 3,000 conversations with young eager students. For most of the tour, there were long queues, interested puntersand brilliant discussions over milkshake. All the events were extremely encouraging, seeing first-hand how many students were open to the idea of embracing veganism as a response to the climate emergency and putting an end to animal exploitation.
"You can't be telling me that's vegan, it's so creamy, it tastes just like dairy!"
Over six events we gave out an average of 500 shakes a day, and there was a huge range in our conversations. For some students, it was the very first time trying plant milks, and it was clear that they had their doubts before taking the first sip. "It'll just taste like soya, won't it?" one student reckoned, with another thinking it wouldn't be much more flavoursome than water.
They all gave it a go though and were surprised to find how creamy and tasty dairy-free milks can be. When students learnt about the 95,000 male calves killed in a year as a by-product of the British dairy industry, and how young dairy cows are when they're sent to slaughter, several quickly made the connection and decided they would move towards veganism that day.
Other students were already considering veganism, with many acknowledging that it was the right thing to do for the planet and animals. Emma, from Cambridge, said that her conversation with Viva! was "the kick I needed to just go for it" and would go vegan from 1 November, World Vegan Day, and several students said they would take on Viva!'s 30 Day Vegan Challenge.
All in all the events were overwhelmingly positive and gave us the perfect opportunity to dish out our specially designed Student Guide to Eating Vegan. The 16-24 age category consistently ranks as the demographic most interested in veganism and of course with the latest climate strikes students are leading the way to a plant-based future!