West Dunbartonshire Council is providing vegan food in nurseries, primary and secondary schools thanks to a campaign from Alexis Kasravi, who has a daughter in nursery.
Kasravi successfully secured vegan school meals for her five-year-old daughter Mia, after her daughter’s nursery originally didn’t offer them. Mia’s parents fought for vegan options to be included, and as a result, the new vegan menu offering has been rolled out across the borough.
The Vegan Society’s legal team helped Kasravi write a formal letter to a council education officer in which she asked for her daughter Mia to be provided with vegan food.“I am very happy that my daughter can enjoy the meals she deserves and that other vegan children will automatically be offered this option,” says Kasravi. “Mia is now in primary school and enjoying her food very much, and we don’t have to worry about secondary school battles later either! It’s important for public institutions like schools to cater for vegan pupils, but plant-based food can be enjoyed by most people, so it promotes inclusivity, sustainability and good nutrition.”
Prior to the vegan menu option, Kasravi was not able to bring in food for her daughter due to health and cross contamination concerns, which led her to contact The Vegan Society.
The charity, which recently registered in Scotland due to its political work there, collaborated with Kasravi to explain to the nursery why it was important to offer vegan meals.
“We are delighted to have been able to help Alexis and Mia,” says Dr Jeanette Rowley, The Vegan Society’s legal advisor. “All children, regardless of their ethical convictions, should be able to benefit from government-funded schemes; we applaud the school and council for recognising this. Veganism is protected under human rights and equality law, which means if a child is eligible for a free school meal, the duty is not to discriminate by providing a vegan option.”
Data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey found that UK children are not meeting their recommended intakes for fibre, which suggests they may not be eating enough fruit and vegetables.
Vegan meals can be a source of fibre, while provide multiple servings of fruit, vegetables, beans and pulses, as recommended in the UK’s Eatwell Guide.
The food standards for schools in England state that all children should be encouraged to have a meat-free day each week by eating a meal containing alternatives such as beans, chickpeas, lentils, soya mince, tofu or vegan meat alternatives such as Quorn.