The School Food Regulations 2014 create requirements for schools to provide portions of certain foods, but do not specifically require schools to provide a vegan option. This should be amended to require schools provide the option of a nutritionally balanced, hot vegan meal on a daily basis.
To quote Laura Chepner, Chair of the Vegan Society’s Education Network: “The Equality Act 2010 places a duty on educators not to discriminate against vegan children and students. Currently the Government only asks that schools make ‘reasonable choices’ when deciding whether to cater for vegans in their care. Those who choose not to are discriminating and it is about time that the grey area became black and white. Vegan options in 2022 should not be optional.”
The government is developing a new national food strategy for England and is now consulting with individuals, organisations and businesses. The strategy, which is due to be published in 2020, recognises that food production has a huge impact on the environment, human health and the economy. It acknowledges that the growth of the human population poses huge risks to the food and water supply and that there are new risks posed by anti-microbial resistance. All of these factors would be improved by a move to a sustainable plant-based food production system and this is your opportunity to influence the strategy.
The strategy will cover the entire food chain, from field to fork: the production, marketing, processing, sale and purchase of food (for consumption in the home and out of it), and the consumer practices, resources and institutions involved in these processes.
Requirements from the government
The government wants a food system that:
delivers safe, healthy, affordable food; regardless of where people live or how much they earn
is robust in the face of future shocks
restores and enhances the natural environment for the next generation in this country
is built upon a resilient, sustainable and humane agriculture sector
is a thriving contributor to our urban and rural economies, delivering well paid jobs and supporting innovative producers and manufacturers across the country
delivers all this in an efficient and cost effective way
Points you may wish to make
Comments should be 1000 words or fewer. You might like to choose from the following points or make your own comments:
The government has declared a climate emergency so now is the time to put this into action in this food strategy. Eating animal products has a huge environmental impact and it is clear that we will not be able to meet the Paris Agreement, and achieve net zero carbon emissions, unless as a nation we make a rapid move towards plant-based diets.
The recent IPCC report on land use (2019) says that we must change the way we produce food and manage land. Agriculture and forestry produces almost a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. With a growing population we cannot continue to use land in the same way and we are now very close to dangerous tipping points. Meat and dairy consumption will have to be cut and there needs to be a major shift to healthy and sustainable plant-based diets such as grains, pulses, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Plant-based foods require less land, less water, produce less pollution on land and in the sea, and produce far less greenhouse gases than animal-based foods.
Fish consumption should be cut drastically in order to prevent the loss of ocean biodiversity, habitat degradation and to reduce pollution (WWF, 2015). Ocean fishing produces nearly half of all plastic debris in the oceans (Lebreton, 2018). Fish farming isn’t the answer: farmed fish are treated with large amounts of pesticides and antibiotics to treat diseases, particularly sea lice, which are rife in such overcrowded conditions, further exacerbating the problem of antibiotic resistance in humans. The farms pollute the surrounding water with faeces and food waste, contaminating the water and producing methane, a potent greenhouse gas (Poore et al, 2018). One alternative for areas currently dependent upon fish farming is the move to properly managed seaweed farming which is currently underexploited in Europe (Campbell et al, 2019).
Poor diet is now the number one cause of death and disability in the UK resulting in a rising burden of obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer (Newton et al, 2015). Wholefood plant-based foods are healthier than meat and dairy and reduce the risk of these diseases which cost society billions, relieving pressure on the NHS and care sector (Fraser, 2009).
There should be a rapid move from subsidies that support animal farming to subsidies for plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruit, pulses and grains. This would help farmers to move to plant-based farming and improve the availability of healthy plant-based foods throughout the country.
Plant-based foods, particularly those produced without the use of animal manures, cause less food-borne infections than animal-based foods such as chicken and eggs. The move to plant-based foods would reduce the incidence of these diseases and therefore relieve the pressure on health care systems.
The move to a plant-based diet could be encouraged by implementing inclusive and sustainable policies for public sector institutions such as schools, hospitals and care homes to offer good vegan meals as standard on menus every day. Skills in cooking plant-based foods should be part of the school curriculum so that all children are able to create healthy and tasty meals.
Farmers should be supported financially and practically, in the move away from farming animals to producing sustainable plant crops or ecological restoration. The Vegan Society’s Grow Green campaign should be extended and widely promoted.
UPDATE: Sadly we have chosen to cancel this event due to the poor weather forecast. Apologies to all interested.
Come and join us for our annual pot luck picnic!
Sunday, 26th August at midday.
Centre Vale Park, Burnley Road, Todmorden OL14 7DE. (*)
Meet at the band stand (see photo).
As usual, everyone is welcome to come along, we just ask they you only bring vegan food or drink to share (thank you for respecting the wishes of our vegan members). Please bring your own cutlery and plate. We will probably be sitting on the ground, so you may wish to bring a portable seat or blanket.
Here are some photos from previous years. See you there!
(*) Quoting from Calderdale Council:
Centre Vale Park is located on the A646 Burnley Road, Northeast of Todmorden town centre, adjacent to the cricket ground. A car park is situated off Ewood Lane, West-side of the park and adjacent to the Sports Centre. Pedestrian access to the park, is by one of the six entrances surrounding the main park area. The town centre, bus and railway stations are a 5 minute walk away.
The Food Chain is a food programme on the BBC World Service that, one could argue, lacks any ethical vision. It is currently seeking nominations for global food champions and we think that opens up opportunities for us vegans to nominate people who are really making an ethical difference to food. You might wish to nominate a vegan celebrity, politician, food company, campaigner or similar.
The judges are predominantly mainstream chefs but vegan nominations will at least make them realise that there are other ways of looking at food than theirs. You may wish to show how your nomination has a global impact.
Supporting and inspiring a lifestyle free of animal-derived products