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An 11-year-old vegan schoolboy was told to ‘eat grass’ and had tuna shoved in his face, according to his parents.

Jack Shanahan, who attends Archbishop Ilsley Catholic School in Birmingham, says he has been the victim of bullies because he doesn’t eat animal products.

According to his parents Lee Hales and Helen Shanahan – who are also vegan and have a Level 3 qualification in nutrition and personal training – they are ‘shocked by the way is school is handling the situation’.

‘Sensitive’

“More and more, Jack has been saying he feels unwell, then right as rain when he knows he’s not going to school. It’s got so bad he is now pretending to be ill just to avoid school. This has been going on for three months,” Lee Hales said.

“He is one of the brightest in his class, but sensitive. I have raised concerns before with the school, but most of the time when we contact them, they tend not to contact us back. 

“This is a very serious matter and, personally, I think the school should be ashamed. To say that I am angry is an understatement. I am at the end of my tether. Sadly, this is what vegans face in society. You get silly comments, you get silly questions, and you get that look from people.”

‘Cannot comment on individual cases’

Bishop Ilsley School put out a statement regarding the matter, saying: “Any allegations about bullying are taken seriously and we have robust procedures in place to deal with any issues that arise. 

“We will not, and cannot, comment on individual cases.”

The school has adapted its school meals menu to conform to vegan dietary requirements. 

Maria Chiorando

Maria is the editor of Plant Based News. As a former magazine editor, newspaper reporter, and features writer, her work has been published by The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and various regional newspapers, as well as Vegan Life magazine and Vegan Trade Journal. She has interviewed a huge range of people, from Prime Ministers to authors, activists, pop stars and actors, and enjoys the varied range of topics writing for PBN allows her to tackle.