A charity has launched a legal challenge to get the government to offer vegan milk in nursery schools.
After seeking legal advice, the Vegan Society has written to the Department of Health demanding that nutritional public health initiatives include fortified plant milk. The charity has given the Department 14 days to respond before it considers the legal options available.
The Vegan Society has also claimed the Nursery Milk Scheme, which was established in the 1940s to offer free cow’s milk to children under 5 years old, discriminates against children who have to pay for non-dairy milk.
The charity claims that the 70-year old scheme is out-of-date, and unfair on children who have a vegan diet, as well as those who are allergic to dairy or object to it on religious, ethical and environmental grounds.
Mark Banahan, Campaigns Manager at The Vegan Society, said:
Vegan children are unfairly treated as they do not benefit from the current school health initiatives, which are designed to increase calcium intake for growing children.
They often miss out or have to rely on parents to provide their own plant milk, something that is not always possible for low-income families and causes a great deal of inconvenience to families who should be entitled to free milk alternatives.
The legal challenge comes off the back of a surge in people choosing a plant-based diet, with research showing that 1 in 3 people regularly buy plant milks alone. Other vegan charities have also seen increasing numbers turn to veganism , with Veganuary pointing to the 250,000 people who took part in this year’s campaign, along with the 200 brands, restaurants and supermarkets who have launched vegan products recently.
The Vegan Society is encouraging people to write to their politicians, to get in touch to share their experiences and share their Play Fair with Plant Milk campaign by posting on social media.