Vegan campaigner and author, Jessica Michael, commonly known as Rawgaia, has urged schools in England to introduce one plant-based meal onto the school lunch menu every week.
While there is no legislation that requires the provision of vegan options, the Vegan Society argues schools have ‘an obligation to ensure that they do not interfere with a vegan’s right to freedom of conscience, and a responsibility under the Equality Act 2010 to avoid any discrimination on the grounds of veganism’.
Michael said: “All children should be given the option of ordering a plant-based lunch at school, regardless of whether they are following a vegan lifestyle or not.
“If we don’t give children the free-will to choose to eat plant-based then we are not moving with the times and are denying children the chance to enjoy healthy, ethical foods that they may not be offered at home.”
She added: “I would like to see all school children every day of the week being able to access a plant-based menu so that they can make independent, conscious decisions. We need to carry on highlighting the huge benefits that a plant-based diet offers.
Michael’s proposal falls in line with the Soil Association (SA), who recently called for ‘compulsory meat-free school meals‘.
‘Time the government caught up’
“The update of the school food standards provides an ideal opportunity to make school meals healthier and more climate-friendly,” said Rob Percival, SA’s Policy Officer.
“We know that children would benefit nutritionally from eating more beans, pulses, and plant-based proteins. The climate would also benefit.
“Some schools are showing that it’s possible to serve children healthy plant-based meals… It’s time the government caught up – the updated school food standards should require that schools serve a plant-based protein day each week.”
Michael hopes to role out the Plant-based Lunch Campaign in her children’s primary school imminently as a ‘pilot project’ – hoping other schools with adopt the same ‘healthy and ethical structure’.