Schools urged to offer vegan menus at lunch times to help reduce carbon footprint

Parents at Stoke Wood Primary in Leicester broadly support more vegan options on school menus

Schools across the country are being urged to go plant-based at lunch times to help reduce their carbon footprint and help raise awareness of alternatives to meat and dairy.

Despite a growing number of families opting for a plant-based diet, schools are still not compelled to have a vegan option.

The Department for Education believes headteachers, governors and caterers are best placed to make decisions on what to offer children.

It was previously rumoured the government would make vegan options compulsory on school menus in their new food strategy - but it was not included in the document published earlier this week.

Despite this, some schools have already started changing to plant-based menus.

Food awareness group Pro Veg UK estimates more than five million school meals have been entirely plant based in the last six months and they are hoping to double that by the end of the year.

In addition to this, a petition has been launched by The Vegan Society, saying veganism is a protected characteristic that should be catered for, and they believe it can have wider benefits for non vegan children

Laura Chepner from The Vegan Society

In an interview with ITV News, Laura Chepner from The Vegan Society explained: "It's just something that the more we bring it into menus and the more we implement it, the more it will just become the norm.

"I think it's going to get even better. As more people invest in plant based options and the children are going to benefit from that. And at the end of the day, it's better for them, better for the animals and better for the planet."

However, one nutritional expert says schools considering exploring these options need to stick to strict guidelines.

These include ensuring meat that is removed from a meal, is replaced by suitable alternatives.