Reading Time: 2 minutes Margaret Thatcher stopped the free provision of school milk for children aged over seven in 1971, which led to her being call 'Thatcher, Milk Snatcher' (Photo: 
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Vegans have been described as Margaret Thatcher’s ‘modern day inheritors’ after calling on the U.K government to ditch free school milk and replace it with plant-based options in an article published in The Times.

Thatcher, who served as prime minister of the U.K from 1979 to 1990, was famously branded the ‘Milk Snatcher’ after stopping the free provision of school milk for children aged over seven in 1971 during her tenure as education secretary.

But in its the comparison, as The Times acknowledges, Thatcher aka the ‘Iron Lady’, made the cuts in a bid to save government cash. The call from plant-based advocates is based on the health benefits of consuming fruit and veg over cow’s milk.

Free dairy in schools

Around £7 million of taxpayers’ money is spent on providing all school children in the U.K. aged five and under access to free cow’s milk, as well as children aged five to 18 who receive free school meals.

But according to Plant Based Health Professionals U.K., there is no evidence that dairy promotes bone health, and it is in fact linked to increased risk of asthma, eczema, and even some cancers.

In addition, dairy excludes communities of colour from benefiting from free nutrition – more than 70 percent of people from BAME communities are lactose intolerant.

World Plant Milk Day

The U.K government faced the calls to ditch free dairy milk in schools from doctors and other health professionals in the run-up World Plant Milk Day (which took place on August 22).

“Dairy should not be an essential part of school nutrition,” said Dr. Shireen Kassam, a consultant hematologist and founder of Plant Based Health Professionals U.K. “It is a defunct food product that is not only unnecessary for health, but which also leads to environmental destruction, with the world’s 13 largest dairy companies producing the same greenhouse gas emissions as the entire U.K.”

She told The Times: “Access to fruits and vegetables for our children would be much more beneficial than access to cow’s milk. The only reason dairy is so cheap is because it gets subsidized. The wrong foods are being subsidized. We need to subsidize fruits, vegetables, and legumes.”

Maria Chiorando

Maria is a news and features writer for 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. She was previously the editor of Plant Based News for over 3 years.