Updated: Feb 13
Around the world children that go to school will eat a lunch provided by the school, what that lunch will look like will be very different depending on where to you are. Some children will get fish soup with tofu and rice while others will get stir-fried pork with vegetables, then in another country children will sit down to baked chicken with stuffed grape leaves. Generally meals from Spain, Ukraine, Greece, South Korea, Brazil, France, Finland and Italy are all fresh and wholesome, but in the UK and US lunch trays will have processed foods such as gammon, hotdogs, biscuits, and beans from a tin.
In the UK the government sets out guidelines for what children should be served at school with a few instructions that schools must follow.
“The government encourages all schools to promote healthy eating and provide healthy, tasty and nutritious food and drink.” – The Department for Education March 2019
Schools must also have some influence in how children choose to eat.
“Encourage all children to have a meat-free day each week, using alternatives such as pulses, soya mince, tofu and Quorn™.”
However, when it comes to protein sources the Department for Education states that children should be given a source of protein every day and gives a list of options which included meat and eggs. Not vegan friendly, not healthy either.
We contacted some companies that provide lunches to schools to see what they said. The response was varied, one company just sent us a list of all of the vegan foods, drinks and ingredients that they used. It included things like flour, cinnamon and beer! one company told us that after the Easter holiday they would be making a change to their school menus.
"Depending upon the school, from the end of April when the children return to school after the holidays, we are offering a vegan option once a week to replace the vegetarian option."
It seems that schools and catering companies that supply school lunches are realising that kids want the option to be vegan and the government is supporting pupils in being able to make choices about what the want to eat. The problem is that, at the moment, the choice may not be varied enough. Yes, there are a lot more meat free options, but cheese and eggs are still used in a lot of meals. As a vegan you'll have to take a look at what is available and make the best choice that you can. Always remember that being vegan isn't about being perfect, it's about living in a way that minimises harm to animals and the planet.
Do you have school lunches or packed lunch? What do think of the options available at your school? Let me know in the comments or send me an email, I'd love to hear about what your lunches are like.