The initiative has been described as 'an ambitious goal, but not at all impossible'

The oldest and largest university in Finland, The University of Helsinki, has ditched beef in a bid to 'significantly' cut its carbon emissions. 

UniCafe cafeterias owned by the university's students union aims to remove the meat product from its menu by February 2020. 

According to Finland's national broadcasting company Yle, the university will slash its carbon footprint from the food it serves by 11 percent - saving around 240,000 kg of CO2 annually. 

'Our next socially responsible move' (Photo: Adobe. Do not use without permission)

'Our next socially responsible move' (Photo: Adobe. Do not use without permission)

'An ambitious goal'

UniCafe Business Operations Director, Leena Pihlajamäki, described the initiative as 'an ambitious goal, but not at all impossible'.

"The idea came from the staff when we were pondering our next socially responsible move. We realized that this would be a way to significantly cut our carbon emissions," Pihlajamäki said.

"Up to now we've offered fillet that suits a tight student budget. Ground beef is easier to replace with other ingredients. Many of our customers will not notice the difference."

'The most effective way'

The university aims to increase sales of vegetarian and vegan lunches to more than 50 percent of all food served and will introduce meat-free alternatives that will be placed at the start of cafeteria self-service counters - so they're the first products students see.

"It's proven that this is one of the most effective ways of doing it," Pihlajamäki added.

The University of Helsinki joins a series of institutions committed to ditching beef for environmental reasons - including the University of Cambridge and Goldsmiths.