Schools Should Have Mandatory Meat-Free Days, Says the Soil Association

By Shabana Arif on at

The government is under pressure to serve up a mandatory plant-based protein meal at least once a week to students on the advice of Soil Association – a charity focused on changing the "future of food and farming".

Meat should be taken off the table because "we need to reduce meat consumption to halt climate change," says the group, citing reports by both the UK Climate Change Committee and the EAT Lancet Commission. According to the body, the School Food Standards currently recommends an optional weekly meat-free day, and the few schools that are participating are apparently offering typically unhealthy options like pasta or pizza.

"The Soil Association is calling for [a mandatory meat-free day] to be accepted and a mandatory plant-based protein day each week implemented to make menus more climate friendly while also tackling poor diets and obesity by increasing fibre intake," reads the website.

"The updated School Food Standards should require that all schools serve a plant-based protein day each week. The current, non-compulsory advice for a meat-free day is too weak," says Rob Percival, the Soil Association's head of policy for food and health.

"We know children would benefit nutritionally from eating more beans, pulses, and plant-based proteins and the climate would also benefit – we should all be eating less and better meat. Leading Food for Life schools are already showing that it is possible to serve children healthy plant-based meals, with the cost saving used to ‘trade-up’ to higher-welfare and more sustainable meat for the rest of the week. It’s time the government caught up.”

Elsewhere, in an effort to tackle fossil fuel reliance, it was reported at the beginning of the month that Britain went a whole week without using coal for the first time in 137 years, although the move to  renewables stalled globally last year.

Either way, battling to change people's mindsets is hard enough, and a mandatory meat-free day will inevitably ruffle feathers of some parents.

Feature image credit: Unsplash