Looking at the scarcity of vegan and vegetarian options in my kids’ school cantine, I for one, would like to see more plant-based school dinners. ‘School Plates’, a new campaign by food awareness organisation ProVeg UK, aims to do just thus improving children’s health, helping save the planet and easing school budgets.
Working with schools, local authorities and catering companies, ProVeg UK is calling for five small changes to menus to increase children’s intake of healthy plant-based foods.
Director of ProVeg UK, Jimmy Pierson, said: “Plant-based foods are mostly cheaper, and that is great news for schools whose budgets are tightening. They’re healthy and good for pupils in both the short and long-term as well as helping the environment and therefore protecting the future for everyone. We call this a win-win-win-win.
“We’re starting with relatively minor, easy-to-implement tweaks, but these can make a big difference in so many ways. Schools can deliver these benefits by simply offering a bean burger over a beef burger, or a cassoulet over a casserole – and we can help them every step of the way.”
ProVeg UK is offering training from expert plant-based chefs who never compromise on taste; the services of a nutritionist to ensure that meals are balanced, wholesome and healthy; and a scientist who can measure the climate emissions savings – all free of charge.
There are many reasons why children should eat more plants. Increasing fruit and veg consumption can help address some of the nation’s biggest health concerns including childhood obesity, which the World Health Organisation regards as one of the most important challenges of the 21st century.
Schools can also play an integral role in encouraging pupils to establish healthy eating habits from an early age, and plant-based meals are suitable for almost everyone, whatever faith and whatever their dietary requirements.
Derek Sarno is Chef and Director of Plant-Based Innovation for Tesco PLC, for whom he recently introduced a range of plant-based ready meals under the Wicked Healthy brand he co-founded. He contributed to the School Plates campaign report, and said: “Food is powerful, empowering, and over time can promote or destroy good health in both our bodies and the environment. I make plants the centre of every meal, and I think the five recommendations in ProVeg UK’s campaign are a great starting point.”
ProVeg UK is currently looking for more schools, teachers, parents, local authorities and catering companies interested in taking part in the School Plates campaign. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to get involved.