The Vegan Society has published a legal opinion challenging the Department of Health to include fortified plant milk in its Nursery Milk Scheme.
Established in the 1940s, the Nursery Milk Scheme provides free cow’s milk to children under five in nurseries. However, if parents wish for their children to have vegan milk, this must be paid for.
Jeanette Rowley, legal advisor at The Vegan Society, has written a formal letter to the government, requesting that nutritional public health initiatives for children must include fortified plant milk to cater for the growing number of vegan children. The society’s request ties in with UN World School Milk Day (25th September).
“Law regulating the provision of milk for young children is in urgent need of reform to recognise current scientific evidence on nutrition and a growing consumer trend away from dairy products,” says Rowley. “Public authorities are under a general duty under the Equality Act 2010 to avoid discrimination; by limiting the Nursery Milk Scheme only to cow’s milk, the Department of Health are failing in that duty. We are urging the government to include fortified plant milk in its milk schemes nationwide, to ensure vegan children are catered for with a nutritionally adequate and delicious milk alternative.”
The Vegan Society is requesting for fortified plant milk to be recognised on par with cow’s milk, wherever animal milk is currently supported or promoted in schools. Currently, if children are allergic to dairy or do not drink animal milk due to religious, ethical or environmental grounds, parents must organise and pay for their own plant milk.
To help highlight the issue, the society has also launched the Play Fair with Plant Milk campaign. The campaign challenges the promotion of cow’s milk and calls for schools to be more inclusive of children’s dietary requirements and ethical convictions.
“Vegan children are unfairly treated as they do not benefit from the current school health initiatives, which are designed to increase calcium intake for growing children,” says Mark Banahan, campaigns manager at The Vegan Society. “They often miss out or have to rely on parents to provide their own plant milk, something that is not always possible for low-income families and causes a great deal of inconvenience to families who should be entitled to free milk alternatives. It is time the government Play Fair with Plant Milk and support it in nutritional public health initiatives for children.”
The government’s Eatwell Guide officially recognises fortified plant milk as a suitable and nutritious alternative to animal milk, specifically mentioning soya milk, which has a similar nutritional profile to cow’s milk in terms of calcium and protein.
For more information about the campaign visit vegansociety.com