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Brighton schools may soon offer more vegan meals to children

More vegan meals look likely become available in Brighton and Hove school canteens.

The news emerged after Brighton mother Jill Pearson-Klein urged councillors to stop sidelining veganism and labelling it as a “special diet”.

She said: “We are in the middle of a climate crisis where at least 60 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions come from animal farming including egg and dairy farming.

“Today’s children need to move towards a more plant-based diet to have a future on this planet and we need to be encouraging them to do so.”

She spoke out at a “virtual” meeting of Brighton and Hove City Council’s Children, Young People and Skills Committee on Monday.

She said: “I am asking the committee to ensure veganism is no longer sidelined as a ‘special diet’ in schools and that a vegan choice is available every lunchtime to all children in all schools to enable them to make more responsible food choices.”

The committee was told that 40 children at maintained schools in Brighton and Hove are currently registered to receive vegan meals.

The Argus: Some parents want more vegan food at Brighton schoolsSome parents want more vegan food at Brighton schools

Green councillor Hannah Clare said that it was likely that many more had a plant-based diet but took a packed lunch to school.

Councillor Clare, who chairs the committee, said that vegan children were registered as receiving a “special diet” to ensure they were not given meat, eggs or dairy food.

She said: “This is not to sideline this choice or treat the child as different but to ensure they receive appropriate foods.

“We will look at reviewing our use of language around this with our catering contractor.”

Eight of the 15 vegetarian dishes on offer in schools across Brighton and Hove were suitable for vegan children, the committee was told.

Council officials have asked school meals contractor Caterlink to consider using quorn products made without egg white to make them suitable for all.

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Councillor Clare said: “We will discuss with Caterlink how the request for more vegan options and a shift of emphasis towards a plant-based diet can be introduced.

“We will also review how the tender for a school meals contract is specified to enhance the vegan option when it comes to retendering the service in the coming years.”

She said that, as a vegetarian herself, she shared the concerns about the effect of animal products on the climate.

Her partner was a vegan, she said, which had made her aware of how much she could eat that he couldn’t.

The Greens were keen to promote “meat-free Mondays” when they first took office nine years ago, trying it out at the Cityclean depot in Holligdean.

The move was not universally popular with the binmen and street cleaners based at Cityclean and the idea was dropped shortly afterwards.