Tag Archives: climate change

UC at the Climate Strike!

Check out a gallery of photos from today’s Climate Strike, courtesy of UC staff and students via Twitter.

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A plant-based diet for the environment?

VCUC is the University of Canterbury’s vege club. VCUC is a student club for people interested in animal rights, environmentalism, and plant-based diets. They discuss the importance of adopting a less meat- and dairy-based diet – and how to make that shift! By VCUC. 

CO2 output of animal agriculture is massive

After reading an article by The Guardian shared by the UC Sustainability Community, about reducing the consumption of animal products to help save the world from climate change, we got quite excited because VCUC is all about eating more plant-based.

There is some debate about the exact numbers of greenhouse gases produced by the animal agriculture industry. However, animal agriculture is still a bigger contributor than any other human related activity, including all forms of transport (planes, container ships etc.). We also cannot forget it is the biggest use of fresh water and land, creates the most waste, deforestation and extinction than any other human activity.

Based on New Zealand Data of 2008: Image credit Science Media Centre
Based on New Zealand Data of 2008: Image credit Science Media Centre

Small steps, big effects

How can you help? Often environmental problems are posed to us as something too big or complex for you to make a change. But there are many small choices made every day that can make a difference. VCUC has some helpful tips.

Many members of VCUC live and thrive off a plant-based diet. Many plant-based diets consist of staples such as fruit, vegetables, grains and legumes. Many find the thought of changing to a plant-based diet too overwhelming to do overnight and that is normal. A long term method is to slowly reduce your consumption of animal products while simultaneously increasing the number of plant-based foods. For example, swapping meat for beans, in say nachos is an easy option. (Check out this great wee video for a quick nutritional comparison of meat vs. beans!) Other people adopt a plant-based day once a week or incorporate one plant-based meal a day. Try what works for you and remember every plant-based meal is a great achievement and it is never too late to start.

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Cheap and easy

A lot of plant-based foods are the cheapest a student can buy in New Zealand. Buying grains (e.g. oats, rice), long shelf life starches (e.g. potatoes, kumara etc.) and legumes can be very cheap. You can buy them bulk and in their dried form (for legumes) for a much cheaper deal. We all know that fruits and vegetables are the healthiest food for us to consume and there are a number of ways to get them cheap:

  • Buy seasonal and ask the shops if they do deals on bulk buys
  • Do not forget the frozen section for bags of fruit and vegetables
  • Explore the weekend markets (Riccarton, Opawa, Lyttelton, ect.)
  • Check out vege box schemes in Christchurch (just google it for options). Sharing it with your flatmates makes this a cheap option
  • Many fruits and vegetables can be frozen if you have surplus and can’t eat them all before they go off
  • Fruit can be foraged for free, keep your eyes out for trees around the city to pick from. (Make sure you are allowed to do so.)
  • Community gardens are a great place for cheap vegetables. If you volunteer at UC’s community gardens you can take some vegetables home for free!
  • There are also co-ops where you pay a set price for a box of fruit and vegetables, that often gets delivered. Check out vege box schemes in Christchurch (just google it for options). Sharing it with your flatmates makes this a cheap option. Salt and Light is the University one.

And finally, the least environmentally detrimental way is to grow your own. You will be amazed at how much you can grow in a small space, plus you could sell or trade the excess! Get in contact with UC Kakariki for some tips.

A plant-based recipe: Easy bean fajitas


  • 1 can No Fat Refried Beans
  • 1 can Low Sodium Pinto Beans
  • ¼ cup Salsa
  • 1 Onion, sliced into strips
  • 1 Bell Pepper, sliced into strips or other vegetables of your choice
  • 2 teaspoons Fajita Spice Mix (below)
  • Tortillas

Fajita Spice Mix

  • 1 tablespoons corn starch
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper


  1. Drain and rinse the pinto beans.
  2. Add salsa and refried beans and simmer until warm.
  3. Whisk all Spice Mix ingredients in a small bowl.
  4. Stir-fry onion, pepper (vegetables), and 2 tsp of Spice Mix in water
  5. Continue stir-frying until liquid evaporates and veggies begin to brown
  6. Assemble fajitas by placing beans in center of tortilla.
  7. Add stir-fry veggies and toppings of your choice.
  8. Roll and enjoy!

We understand that there are still many things left untouched in this blog and you are more than welcome to contact us at vegclubofuc@gmail.com or our Facebook pages https://www.facebook.com/groups/ucvegclub/ https://www.facebook.com/ucvegclub/ for any questions you have or for more information.

This message was brought to you by the UC Sustainability Office. Connect with us through Facebook or Instagram. Or email us: sustainability@canterbury.ac.nz


Climate Change Seminar & TEDx Talk

The Future We Seek – A Climate Change Seminar, held on 02 May 2016 at the University of Canterbury, reminded the audience that climate change is already affecting the planet and human society, and will continue to do so.

The keynote speaker, Dr Sally Carlton from the New Zealand Human Rights Commission, discussed how the challenges presented by climate change interface in various ways with human rights related concerns around the globe.

Following the keynote, the more than 60 guests in attendance viewed the TEDx talk ‘Climate Change: More Than Numbers’ – which was given by Dr. Daniel Price (a UC Graduate) and Dr. Erlend Moster Knudsen.

Dr. Price and Dr. Knudsen have, over the last year, been working on Pole to Paris – an international NGO founded by Dr. Price with the goal of raising public awareness of climate change issues. Following the video, Professor Martin Holland, Director of the New Zealand European Union Centres Network (EUCN), moderated a panel discussion.

The panel was made up of Professor Bryan Storey (Director Gateway Antarctica, UC), Dr. Pubudu Senanayake (UC Graduate and Generation Zero member), Mr. Adrien Taylor (Former TV3 environmental correspondent) and Mr. Jeff Willis (PhD Candidate at UC and Pole to Paris Social Media Director).

The event was organised by the EUCN,  Mr. Thomas Gillman (UC PhD Candidate and General Manager of Pole to Paris) and Mr. Jeff Willis.

For more information on the Pole to Paris campaign please visit their website .

The event was kindly funded by the New Zealand European Union Centres Network , a multi-disciplinary network of all eight New Zealand universities that aims to integrate the three elements of research, teaching, and outreach activities with a unique umbrella theme that focuses on the impact, role and understanding of the EU within New Zealand and the wider Pacific.

The NCRE wish to extend our thanks to our graduate students for proposing and implementing this initiative.

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