Chinese authorities are ordering a vegetarian kindergarten to add meat to its menu over fears surrounding nutrient deficiencies.
Deyin School in Chengdu city offers its students plant-based foods as well as milk and eggs – but refrains from serving fish and meat.
According to multiple reports, this goes against the government’s guidelines for schools. Therefore, Deyin School has been told to ‘improve its eating plan’ and ‘make it more balanced’.
While the move has stirred controversy online, one anonymous teacher from a school in Beijing has supported the meat-free menu.
She told Indian Express: “The food from animal slaughter, the milk and eggs we consume today often contain ingredients we don’t know. It’s safer to eat just foods from plants.
“Besides, you can still gain a lot of nutrients from beans and nuts.”
In the UK, councils are being urged to provide the maximum amount of plant-based options at schools. Currently, due to the existing national school food standards, this is only two vegetarian days per week.
Campaigners are asking councils to make this change to ‘reduce the impacts of climate change as well as providing healthier food for children’.
Rohini Bajekal is a Nutritionist and Head of Communications at Plant-Based Health Professionals UK. She said: “Schools play a crucial role in setting healthy eating habits for children at an early age.
“Only 18 percent of children are currently meeting the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day in the UK.
“More plant-based meals in schools would help improve schoolchildren’s access to nutritious foods as well as promoting planetary health. A healthy plant-based diet is suitable at every age and life-stage and can also reduce one’s risk of chronic diseases.”