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School children in Brighton and Hove could soon receive more vegan meal options after a parent insisted the diet no longer be ‘side-lined’ during a council meeting.

Concerned mother Jill Pearson-Klein called for Brighton and Hove City Council to increase plant-based options for kids.

She urged the council to end labeling of vegan options a ‘special diet’ and instead make them readily available to all pupils.

The Argus reported that more than 40 children at schools across Brighton are currently signed up for vegan lunches.

Climate crisis

Jill told the council’s children young people and skills committee: “We are in the middle of a climate crisis… At least 60 percent of the world’s carbon emissions come from animal farming including egg and dairy farming.

“Today’s children need to move towards a more plant-based diet to have a future on this planet … We need to be encouraging them to do so.”

Sidelined for a ‘special diet’

To receive vegan meals in schools children have to be registered as having a “special diet” – but Jill urged councilors this should come to an end.

Green councilor Hannah Clare explained that the reason for this was to ensure children weren’t given animal products.

She added that it had not been enforced to sideline children and that the council would review the choice of language.

The council also claimed they would discuss moving an emphasis towards plant-based alternatives with school catering services.

Fighting battles for vegan meals

There is currently no legislation that requires schools to provide vegan meals for pupils.

Despite this, two years ago a mother from Bury won the fight for her daughter’s school to offer vegan free school meals.

Last November, another mum ran a successful campaign and got a council in Scotland to provide vegan meals to all its schools.

Help is available

The Vegan Society warns of the difficulties in introducing changes in schools. But, believes schools have a duty to not discriminate.

The society states: “If a child is eligible for a free school meal the duty is not to discriminate. We believe this means that a vegan option should be provided. We can help make the legal case for this if needed.”

Emily Baker

Emily Baker

Emily is a journalist based in Devon, where she reports on issues affecting local people from politics to the environment. She has also written features on feminism for Polyester Magazine.