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Darwin College will host the first fully plant-based Cambridge May Ball this year. 

Organisers plan to work with local vendors and the Darwin catering staff to produce high-quality vegan food and drinks on the night, which for VIP guests also includes a formal dinner. This initiative comes after a motion by the Cambridge Student Union to push for plant-based catering at University sites, and signals a shift in the University towards lower-carbon catering.

The Darwin May Ball Committee decided on plant-based catering as they felt it was the “logical next step” as Colleges across the University have been moving towards more vegetarian and lower waste May Balls. They believe being the first College to hold a plant-based May Ball will be a statement of intent from Darwin College and will demonstrate to other Colleges that sustainable May Balls are feasible, while also providing a blueprint for successful future plant-based events.

Although the Darwin community is mostly supportive of the move, there have been some concerns from students around the quality of catering. The May Ball Committee are confident that the night will “demonstrate conclusively” that May Balls can be “done with great food”, as well as “reduce the stigma” around plant-based catering. They also believe the variety and quality of options will allow students to experience the wide range of vegan options that Cambridge vendors have to offer.

Alongside external vendors, the Committee are excited to have the support of the Darwin catering team who will also be providing food on the night. The College has been moving towards making catering more sustainable, such as by subsidising the lowest impact, plant-based meals in the dining hall and regularly hosting plant-based formals, and so are enthusiastic to be involved.

The Darwin College May Ball will be held on the 23rd of June, 2023, with this year’s theme being “The Orient Express”.

Written by: Joshua Bickler, Darwin College