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What’s believed to be the UK’s first plant based school kitchen has started serving pupils at a school in Sussex.
The hot meals at Our Lady of Sion School in Worthing have been introduced by ‘Plant Based School Kitchens’ who say the diet offers benefits for both physical and mental health.
The company is run by Anna and Gary Hardley who already run a vegan restaurant in the town.
Dishes at the school include a Shepherd's Pie containing lentils instead of lamb, meat-free meatballs made of Black Bean & Quinoa Balls and Tofu Tacos.
Anna Hardley said it’s worth people giving a plant based diet a try before brushing off the idea.
"I think they should try it. If you're a foodie person, try something at first before you say you don't like it, even if you have to close your eyes, it’s not as bad as you might think.
"It’s a very big deal, it's massive for us but it’s also massive for us to be able to give a child, who might not get that nutrition to get that in school.
"They're getting a really fresh, recipe, fresh food, cooked daily, and they’re getting all the nutrition that they basically need."
Watch: schoolchildren give their verdict on the vegan lunches
The kitchen has been up and running for around two weeks with meals prepared on the school site each day.
What a weekly menu looks like:
Tofu Tacos with Asian Slaw, Choona Melt Jacket and Fresh fruit & cream
Vegetable Lasagne, Leek & Mushroom Quiche with Salad and Banana cake
Teriyaki Broccoli T off & rice Noodles, Lentil Soup with ChoriZo and Apple crumble & custard
Butternut squash & sweet potato Tikka Masala with rice, Caesar Salad and Jam Tart
Fake Away Friday -Fillet Fisch Burger with Tartare sauce & chips, Jerk tofu, rice & peas and Salted Caramel & Chocolate Brownie
Children can still eat meat in their packed lunches and Our Lady of Sion School headteacher Steven Jeffery maintains the school is not ‘anti-meat’.
"What we're saying is this is an opportunity to really explore what plant-based food is all about, how it can have a positive impact on the environment and how it can be used as part of education.
"And we are a school, so let's educate over lunch. But we're not anti meat eating either so the parents have bought into that and said, well, our children could eat meat for breakfast or in the evening meal and more and more parents are actually saying, can we have the recipes?"
A vegan diet is increasing in popularity with more products on sale in supermarkets as people look to reduce the amount of meat in their diet.
Plant Based School Kitchens are looking to eventually introduce their meat-free model in primaries and secondaries across the country.