School serves up vegan meals for Lyla
- Credit: Picture: TINA NEWMAN
A Suffolk primary school has introduced vegan alternatives to ensure that “no children are left out” after studies reveal a 700% increase in veganism over the last two years.
Mother-of-two Tina Newman was disappointed at the lack of vegan options on the menu at Stonham Aspal Primary School after moving to Suffolk from London in January.
But now her four-year-old daughter Lyla can choose vegan options on a daily basis after the school agreed to offer new dishes.
“Our whole family eats vegan food, so when Lyla started reception in September we were frustrated to not see any food suitable on the menu, especially considering the meals are free for the first two years,” said Mrs Newman, who has been a vegetarian for 21 years and a vegan since last September.
The school’s chef Victoria Neaves created her own temporary menu for Lyla after the issue was raised and the school then contacted the catering company to come up with a longer term solution.
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Mrs Newman also wrote to the school’s catering company, Vertas, which operates the Eats brand in primary schools and the Vive brand in high schools across the region.
She said: “It doesn’t feel fair that we should be penalised for choosing not to contribute to these cruel industries and follow a compassionate lifestyle and then not have food available for our children.
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“With growing evidence that a whole food, plant based diet is best for health and the environment, it is about time the standards for food in schools was reviewed and amended accordingly.”
There is now a vegan option each day for Lyla and others following a meat and dairy free diet,
Craig Byford, the development chef for Vertas catering in Suffolk, said: “We are having more and more vegan requests across the region and we want to make sure we are not excluding anyone.
“The menu we have rolled out is not the full menu as of yet but it offers vegan alternatives using products like soya milk and vegan cheese.”
The Ipswich-based chef, added: ““We want to be able to give vegan children the same food as vegetarians across the board as much as possible. So far desserts are our biggest challenge.”
The Newman family were originally all meat-eaters but decided to turn vegan after learning of its impact on the environment and animals through Netflix documentaries such as Cowspiracy.
Mrs Newman said she believes there are a wider range of options available in London as more people are following a vegan or plant based lifestyle, so you are not so much a minority.
However, she hopes mainstream examples such as the vegan Great British Bake Off challenge on the BBC will help others realise how easy it is to bake vegan options.