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11th Mar 2022

Doctors call for schools to ditch meat and milk for vegan meals

April Curtin

Kids going green even just one day a week could have a really positive impact on the planet

For most of us, school meals were not exactly the tastiest experience – let alone the most nutritious – but a change to lunchtime nosh could see kids getting their greens in while keeping it green too.

Doctors are calling for bacon, sausage and milk to be banned from school meal menus in a bid to keep kids healthy. Some have said they want all animal products taken off the table and replaced with vegan alternatives.

Dr Shireen Kassam, who is leading the campaign against meat, told The Sun: “Obesity in children and young people is a severely concerning health problem, and one we could so easily tackle through plant based nutrition and education.

“Meat and dairy have proven to be detrimental to children’s health, including increasing cholesterol and blood pressure, increased risk of heart disease and is linked to the cause of some cancers.”

The doctor, who is the founder of Plant-based Health Professionals UK, said it is essential that the benefits of a vegan diet are taken more seriously and encouraged amongst children and their families.

She said: “Swapping current school meal plans for plant based meals makes fruit and vegetables more accessible, but also ensures that children are eating nutritious foods daily, optimising their health and minimising health related issues.”

A quarter of primary school children in the UK are now obese. A third don’t even manage to eat one portion of vegetables a day – increasing the risk of them developing a range of health issues including type two diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

According to Dr Kassam, a whole-food, plant-based diet rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants would fight these risks. At the same time, the diet remains low in saturated fat and free from cholesterol.

Just one less red meat dish each week would have a huge effect, the doctor said and this would not only be great for the kids but the planet too.

If the UK’s 8.2 million school children swapped one meaty meal out for a vegan one, it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2.74 tonnes – the same as taking 900,000 cars off the road each year. A number of schools in areas such as East Sussex and Lancashire have already made the decision to go meat-free.

Dr Kassam hopes for bacon and sausage to be switched for lentil bolognese and chickpea curry. So, it’s safe to say the days of Turkey Twizzlers are well in the past.

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