These are great days for vegan parents who are sharing this lifestyle with their kids. More and more schools are jumping onto the wagon of sustainability and a greener nutrition. This is remarkably good news that most parents cheer on.
There are regular schools where meat and highly processed foods continue to be served to kids. Then we have other schools that decided to implement vegan dishes on their menus. Finally, we have a thin margin where 100% vegan schools are emerging in full force. This is the reality we have right now and should be glad for it.
However, there are many questions that continue to be unanswered. The shift is happening but taking its time, especially in the UK. The vegan lifestyle is influencing some countries more than others. Therefore, the changes come in all forms and colors.
In the following lines, we will talk about vegan schools in the UK and all around the world, the model of 100% vegan schools, how kids are experiencing this change, discrimination, and your rights as a parent.
The Situation in the UK
Sadly, the UK isn’t a great example of progressive vegan schools indeed. The shift is taking its time here but it’s certain. With an evident health challenge, both the government and civil movements are urging not only schools but hospitals as well to add vegan options to their menus.
The penetration of vegan nutrition in the UK society is rising every year and with it, the need for implementing these traits into the educational system. The idea isn’t, in any case, to force non-vegan students to eat plant-based menus but to provide ideal opportunities to those children who follow this lifestyle.
The well-known Vegan Society is encouraging such changes all over the UK and big changes are expected to happen soon. However, it would be irresponsible to think that existent schools will have a radical change towards full-vegan models. Still, with the notable rise of this lifestyle in our society, 100% vegan private schools may open their doors in the immediate future.
New Developments All Around the World
As we said before, the evolution of vegan schools is going at different paces depending on which direction you see. While the UK has a lot to work on today, other places may have a foot ahead.
In New York City, the shift towards healthy eating is making big steps. Over 1,200 public schools are implementing vegan options in their cafeterias. Not becoming full-vegan but moving in the right direction.
Across the Atlantic, we have France and its promising policies on this matter. French Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot thinks that schools must seek to implement, at the very least, a weekly 100% vegan menu as soon as possible. In fact, this is more than wishful thinking: this idea is shaping into a policy that clearly supports the vegan lifestyle. He bases the policy in his idea of conscious eating as a crucial element in early education.
If we go back again across the Atlantic, we can study two cases to feel proud of. First, we have an exemplary 100% vegan school, the MUSE School, which is leading the way in the US. This Californian school eliminated all animal-based foods from its menu. On-campus gardens will provide part of the foods present in the kitchen, involving kids in the process.
In Latin America, big changes are happening as well. Just a few months ago, four major Brazilian cities kick-started a comprehensive plan to transform all public schools into vegan environments in several ways. The transformation is expected to be complete by 2019 and it includes sustainability-focused infrastructure, activities, and education programs, besides a plant-based menu.
Open Doors for Everyone
Wherever you are living right now, being the UK or somewhere else in the world, vegan schools are unconditionally available to your kids. While some private schools may be out of the household budget, there are always options.
Both vegans and non-vegan students can have a very positive experience within these spaces. The vegan lifestyle is all about inclusion and promoting healthy habits. Therefore, schools that are making the shift are also implementing the tools to make non-vegan children feel comfortable with trying new things.
Some parents may say that 100% vegan schools are discriminating kids who don’t stick to this diet. This is exactly what happened with the MUSE School in California. When the school made a radical shift towards a 100% vegan institution, many parents took their kids out and transferred to other, more traditional schools. The popular reason were concerns about their children’s health, mainly influenced by the potential lack of meats in their school-time meals.
The MUSE School quickly recovered from this and parents from all Southern California ran to get their kids a place. Yet, it probably taught a lesson to other schools about strategic thinking. However, it isn't discrimination to non-vegans but a natural, quite expected change to give others opportunities as well.
Your Rights, Their Duty
If you are in the UK, you don’t need to be anxious. The vegan lifestyle is here to stay and institutions are hearing. Just like it’s happening in France, policies will soon take place to guarantee quality nutrition to our children in educational environments.
Nutrition-related issues can be eased in the UK if the vegan way of eating gets implemented at schools, something that many organizations agree on. Clearly, one of the key issues with meat-based menus at schools is the lack of a sustainable intake of vegetables, including fruits.However, in the meanwhile, you are in your right to demand this change as an individual at the school where your kids are and their duty is to hear these demands. If you haven’t found the ideal school for your vegan kids, join the movement, support your children with home-cooked meals, and soon enough the shift will arrive at your city.