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VEGGIE KIDS NEGLECTED BY SCHOOL CATERERS
Posted 1 March 2002
March is Animal Aid's Veggie Month
A major new survey of British schools has revealed that more than a quarter do not cater properly for vegetarian pupils.
The shock finding is contained in a report published this week by Animal Aid. Its publication marks the start of Veggie Month - the celebration of meat-free living staged throughout March every year by the national campaign group.
369 primary and secondary schools were represented in the Animal Aid investigation, which pools data provided by pupils and parents living in all parts of the UK.
Vegetarian Food School Report reveals that, while 18% of schools provide four or more vegetarian options every day, a depressingly high 27% sometimes, or regularly, have days where no vegetarian meal is served.
Many young vegetarians who took part said they feel that their views are not respected and that they are treated like 'second class' customers. In addition, there were complaints that fish dishes are often labelled as 'vegetarian', that the veggie options are high in fat and dominated by cheese, chips and wheat, and that contamination of vegetarian foods by meat frequently occurs.
All the schools featured have been asked to supply copies of their menus in order to verify what the survey participants reported. Each will be informed how it fared in the survey and there will be special certificates awarded to the most outstandingly good and bad schools in each region.
Says Veggie Month Co-ordinator, Ronny Worsey:
"Young vegetarians are standing up to be counted and they have just as much right to be catered for as adults. The school meal has a very significant role to play in the nutritional needs of most children. It is therefore vital that all young veggies are served tasty, healthy food. Growing people need more than chips and pizza!"
A set of guidance notes for school caterers has been produced by the Kent-based group. In addition, it is urging head teachers to adopt the following recommendations:
- Schools should provide at least two vegetarian main meal options daily, along with a range of vegetarian snacks.
- The needs of the growing number of vegan and dairy-intolerant children must be recognised.
- More use should be made of interesting vegetables and salads, as well as vegetarian sausages, burgers and soya mince.
- Fruit tuck shops and healthy eating initiatives should be established in every school.
- Young people should not be taught that a balanced diet demands meat, eggs and dairy products. They should be educated about the healthy alternatives to animal products, so that they can make an informed choice.
- Vegetarian youngsters need to be given equal status to their meat-eating peers.
Full details on the schools featured in the survey and whether they passed the Veggie Test are available on request.
In line with this year's Veggie Month theme, Animal Aid has also launched a new full-colour booklet called Young Veggies. Aimed at children and teenagers who are considering going vegetarian, it is full of information and easy recipes. The booklet, together with the survey report, forms part of a free Veggie Pack, which can be ordered through the group's website, by email, by post, or via the special Veggie Line: 01732 354032.
Notes to Editors
- More information from Ronny Worsey or Andrew Tyler on 01732 364546.
- We have an ISDN line for broadcast-quality radio interviews.