MPs urge government to axe mandatory servings of meat in school

Read Time:   |  14th October 2022

MPs across the UK are backing a campaign calling on the Secretary of State for Education to make changes to its school meal advice...

MPs around the UK are urging the government to axe mandatory servings of meat, including fish, and dairy from school meals.

The push is part of a campaign spearheaded by PETA to revise the School Food Standards, which it has branded ‘outdated’.

Backed by the McCartney family and vegan chef Omari McQueen – the charity has sent a letter to newly appointed Secretary of State for Education Kit Malthouse.

MPs back campaign

Signed by MPs across the country including Caroline Lucas and Henry Smith, the letter says ‘current meat and dairy mandates limit schools’ capacity to serve children climate-friendly vegan foods’.

It also says removing the ‘meat mandate’ would ‘benefit children’s health, prevent animal suffering, and reduce carbon emissions’.

“Reforming school meals will grant students a healthier, greener future and spare sensitive animals a terrifying death,” said PETA Corporate Projects Manager Dr Carys Bennett.

“PETA is urging the Department for Education to update the archaic School Food Standards to remove obligatory servings of meat and dairy, foods that have been found to harm the environment and human health.”

Meaty school meals?

The government’s current advice for school meals does promote ‘plenty of fruit and vegetables’ as well as starchy foods such as rice.

It cites ‘using pulses twice a week and soya, tofu, or mycoprotein-based meat substitute once or twice each week’.

However, daily offerings of dairy and meat (including red meat) are also encouraged and hailed for their ‘health’ benefits.

* The open letter is signed by MPs including Henry Smith and Dame Diana Johnson DBE, more than 40 English councillors, Greenpeace UK, Upfield, Quorn, Linda McCartney Foods, and others.

Chris Packham joins ProVeg’s School Plates programme

At the same time, conservationist Chris Packham has joined ProVeg UK’s School Plates programme as an official ambassador. The progamme urges schools to offer more plant-based options on their lunch menus.

As part of a free of charge service, ProVeg UK offers to advise on school menus, help to develop vegan recipes, and even deliver training workshops to the school chefs to help them adapt.

To date, ProVeg UK’s School Plates programme has helped to make over 6.4 million school meals healthier and more sustainable by going meat-free and plant-based.

In a video published by ProVeg UK, Packham said: “[School Plates] is a great initiative – it’s all about getting young people in schools to explore a more plant-based diet, because, we’ve got to be honest here – in order for us to hope for a healthier, happier, more sustainable future, we need to make some changes.

“One of the things that we can do relatively easily here in the UK is change what we eat. There’s no ambiguity about the fact that we need to be eating less meat. What we’re interested in is a transition – asking people who eat a lot [of meat] to eat a little less, being patient and kind as they go through that process.

“Working with caterers, and with staff and all those people working in school kitchens, giving the training and encouragement to try more plant-based food… School Plates is a really great idea. So please do try to get involved!”

Is your child interested in going vegan? Help them to find out what healthy vegan kids eat

Featured image: monkeybusinessimages via Getty Images

Written by

Sally FitzGerald

Launch editor of Vegan Food & Living – the UK's best-selling vegan magazine and PPA Consumer Magazine of the Year – and creator of Britain's biggest annual vegan attitudes and behaviour survey, The Big Vegan Survey, Sally is always on the search for talented writers and exciting new vegan products

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