ProVeg UK have launched a campaign to increase vegan school lunch options and improve the health of pupils, an issue which so badly needs to be addressed, during an obesity crisis where over 20,000 leave primary school “severely obese” at the age of eleven. The initiative, named School Plates, works with schools, councils and catering companies across the UK to improve meals for children and concentrates on getting vegetables into young diets.
ProVeg, whose co-founder is renowned vegan spokesperson Dr. Melanie Joy, will be encouraging schools around the country to adopt five simple, cost-effective tasks, in order increase the amount vegetables consumed by children. Schools will be asked to ensure that meat-free options are available every day, and to ensure that this option is different to the meat dish; “This is about creating a meaningful choice. If faced with a choice of Shepherd’s Pie or Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie, it is clear that all but the vegetarian pupils will choose the former, and this does nothing to promote the vegetable-rich options.” The report suggest that instead, schools should offer an interesting veggie option which would appeal to children, for example if there is the option of a chicken curry for the meat dish and a vegan shepherd’s pie, children would be tempted to try the latter since it’s such a traditional favourite.
The report continues, that in the same vein as “Meat-free Mondays”, there should be at least one meat-free day every week, and advises that for the remaining days, the wording on the menu does not suggest in any way that the meat-free option is inferior. Finally, the last recommendation is that schools remove all processed red meat from their menus. This should be welcomed by health officials, since red meat has been officially declared as a carcinogen in the same category as cigarettes, and raise awareness of just how seriously detrimental for children’s health processed meat really is.
Dr Joy asked, most pertinently: “If we could enhance pupils’ health, help protect them from killer diseases in the long term, reduce our impact on the environment and save you money all at the same time, why wouldn’t we?’