For the last five years, the European Union has subsidized fruit, vegetables, and dairy milk for schoolchildren. Now the program is up for review, and thousands are calling for plant-based milk options to be added.
A petition (set up by Oatly, ProVeg International, Dier&Recht, and more) calls for the European Commission to add calcium-fortified plant-based milk to its school scheme.
So far, more than 18,500 people have added their signatures.
One reason listed on the petition is lactose intolerance. (Not everyone can break down the lactose in milk easily. In fact, nearly 70 percent of people around the world are lactose intolerant.) Another is animal welfare, and another is the environment.
Animal agriculture, which includes the dairy industry, is responsible for 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Plus, it uses up valuable resources. One liter of cow’s milk, for example, uses 22 times more water than one liter of soy milk.
So far, the EU’s school program has helped to subsidize around 160 million liters of cow’s milk every year.
Oatly’s milk smuggling advert
As well as backing the petition, Oatly has released a new advert in support of the campaign.
The commercial, which shows kids smuggling cartons of Oatly’s oat drink into schools, asks: “Should kids have to take it into their own hands? Include plant-based milk in the school milk scheme!”
It is currently being shown across the EU, in countries including Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain.
Oatly has also posted about the ad on its Instagram, with the caption: “The EU cares about people’s lifestyles and health and wants us to increase the consumption of plant-based foods as one of the ways to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Not including plant-based drinks in the scheme is irrational and counterproductive.”
According to the EU, it is currently reviewing the “school fruit, vegetables, and milk scheme” and welcomes everyone to contribute, including businesses, NGOs, schoolchildren themselves, and their parents or guardians.
It lists health and sustainability as two key reasons why it has opened a consultation.