Ask for Healthy Vegan School Meals in Scotland
The Scottish government has opened a consultation on the nutritional requirements for food and drink in schools, with the aim of using the responses to bring schools’ nutritional standards in line with those established in the Revised Dietary Goals for Scotland. This is a great opportunity to highlight the benefits of a vegan lifestyle and request healthy plant-based options.
Getting your “five a day” is essential at any age, but it’s especially important for growing children to eat healthily. These days, however, kids simply aren’t taking in all the nutrients they need.
According to data presented in the Scottish Health Survey, most children and young people are consuming far fewer portions of fruit and vegetables than are recommended, meaning they’re not getting the well-balanced diet they need. It’s up to adults to nudge them in the right direction and help them enjoy healthy meals. So how do we change the stats? We can start by looking at school lunches.
The options that kids are offered at school can have a big influence over the way they think about food, which is why they need to be provided with plenty of fruit and vegetables during school mealtimes and encouraged to make the most of them.
If we swap any of the unhealthy dishes that are commonly served in schools for vibrant and varied meals consisting of vegetables, pulses, grains, seeds, and fruits, they can learn to enjoy food that’s good for them. There are also so many delicious plant-based versions of the foods kids really go crazy for, such as veggie burgers, non-dairy yogurts and cheeses, and vegan chicken nuggets. These are not only healthier than their non-vegan equivalents but also low-cost and easy to prepare.
The NHS states that children can be brought up healthily on a varied and balanced vegan diet – plant foods are great sources of fibre, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Evidence shows that vegan eating is not only a healthy choice but also preferable to diets based around meat, eggs, and dairy “products”, which are a major contributor to conditions such as cancer, coronary heart disease, diabetes, and obesity – a recent analysis by Public Health England revealed that the proportion of severely obesity has reached its highest level on record for children between the ages of 10 and 11.
Encouraging healthy eating at an early age has a lasting positive impact, and it’s much easier to adopt a nutritious, low-fat diet when meals are based on vegan foods rather than animal-derived ones.
It’s crucial that we foster compassion in kids from an early age. Teaching children to see other animals as individuals – whether that animal is a cat, dog, pig or chicken – will help them grow up understanding that every sentient being deserves respect. Teaching young people about the impact their food choices have on animals, the environment and their own health helps them make smart choices and become responsible citizens.
What You Can Do
Ask the Scottish government to ensure that children can enjoy healthy vegan meals at school – leave your comments and requests here.