Plant-powered mum launches schools campaign for vegan-inclusion
One mum is asking schools for better vegan-inclusion
As Veganuary approaches, one vegan pupils’ mum has launched a campaign to get schools to take vegan-inclusion seriously.
Vegan pupils are registering their schools to receive a pack in January explaining what vegan-inclusion is, why it’s important, and easy steps to make things better. 400 schools have been plotted in the 2 weeks since the campaign launched.
A lack of understanding of ethical veganism in UK schools is having a huge effect on vegan families, as it affects many aspects of school life.
School dinners are frequently unavailable, or often repetitive, unbalanced, and lacking parity with other options (vegans like pudding and Christmas dinners too!).
Bullying towards vegan pupils is all too common, and in some cases even condoned or conducted by teachers.
Lessons, Trips and Class Projects
Nutrition lessons are still often presented as ‘you need meat for protein and milk for calcium’, despite the British Dietetic Association confirming well planned vegan diets can support healthy living in people of all ages.
School trips to zoos and farms, dissection policies, hatching projects, and even nursery rhyme choices have big impacts on vegan-inclusion.
Founder Ruth Jenkins’ realisation was that for of the hundreds of vegan pupils across the country they are often the only vegan in a school that doesn’t understand them.
If you’re a pupil going to school and they won’t offer you a suitable meal, teach in ways that run counter to your understanding, and leave you feeling exposed to bulling for your beliefs, you are not being included.
You will feel actively excluded, and it’s that horrible feeling that the campaign aims to change.
‘Veganism Poorly Understood’
Founder Ruth Jenkins says: “The funny thing is that overall I’d say my son’s school is a hugely inclusive place!”
“The teachers have Stonewall training, and it’s a wonderfully religiously and ethnically diverse school that I’m proud to send my son to.”
“However, veganism is often poorly understood, and until someone explains the ways in which vegan children see the world to their teachers, it’s understandable that they don’t see the negative impact of their teaching approaches.”
“I want this campaign to support schools to release the tension that vegan pupils carry to school each day.”
So far, vegan pupils and parents across the UK have registered over 480 of their schools so that an information pack can be sent to their Head teacher in January 2021. If you would like to register your child’s school, head to vieducation.co.uk.
The recent confirmation that ethical veganism is a protected belief (as required by the Equalities Act 2010), gives schools a duty under the law to make reasonable changes to ensure vegan pupils are not inadvertently or intentionally discriminated against.
The number of vegans in the UK is rising – quadrupling in the last 5 years, to make up 1.16% of the UK population – 600,000 in 2019.
Research indicates 1 in 5 UK households will be celebrating with a vegan Christmas dinner this year. As the growth in veganism continues, there are likely to be more and more vegan pupils joining UK schools in the years ahead.
By Ruth Jenkins
 Judge Robin Postle ruled in a short summary judgment that ethical veganism satisfied the tests required for it to be a philosophical belief protected under the Equality Act 2010.
 Ipsos Mori surveys, commissioned by The Vegan Society, 2016 and 2019, and The Food & You surveys, organised by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the National Centre for Social Science Research (Natcen).