Give us more meat free meals, say British schoolchildren

During National Vegetarian Week, research shows 7 out of 10 kids want healthier, more environmentally friendly food

Staff, students and the Bosh team at Trinity Primary School, Lewisham on Wednesday 15 May 2019

Pink Floyd famously sang that kids “don’t need no education”. Well neither, it seems, do British schoolchildren need any advice on what constitutes acceptable school meals: a new poll has revealed they are being let down by canteens across the country, and are hungry for more meat free options.

The research, commissioned by Linda McCartney Foods (LMF), found that 7 out of 10 pupils want more vegetarian and vegan school meals. A thousand children aged 8-16 took part in the poll, which found that 44 per cent have tried to cut meat from their diet, and 10 per cent are already meat free. By 2029, that figure will be 36 per cent.

Most of the children eager for more meat free meals are doing so to support animal welfare (44 per cent of respondents), while 31 per cent said they were worried about the environmental impact of eating too much meat. Slightly fewer (29 per cent) are meat reducers for health reasons, and 19 per cent said they simply enjoyed veggie and vegan options.

It seems parents, too, are far more on the ball when it comes to greener and more nutritious eating: 81 per cent of respondents said their children’s schools did not offer enough healthy and tasty veggie options; 45 per cent would be happy for vegetarian kids to make their own choices; 22 per cent thought going meat free was a good thing, and 21 per cent would actively encourage it.

It will disturb them to know that 23 per cent of kids have missed their lunch at some point because of a lack of choice, and 77 per cent of meat free eaters have been forced to eat meat because their is no other option.

To highlight the research findings, and to celebrate National Vegetarian Week, LMF, in conjunction with Cook School, has helped one school go completely vegetarian for the week. Pupils at Trinity Primary in Lewisham, south London, have not only been enjoying meat free food, but are today hosting a cookery demonstration by vegan chef duo Bosh! The YouTubers – Ian Theasby and Henry Firth – said young people understand that climate change is one of the greatest threats to their future. “We’re seeing a continuous change in attitudes towards food all around the world and it’s amazing that in the UK one in 10 children are now meat free, with that number growing,” they said.

MFM has been leading the way in working with schools, helping pupils understand that removing meat from the menu doesn’t mean subtracting taste and excitement. As we’ve learnt over the years – working with schools such as Preston Manor and Great Missenden C of E Combined  – the fastest way to a child’s head and heart is through their stomach. If you want them to learn all about the joys and importance of meat free eating, cook them delicious grub!

Fancy trying a Meat Free Monday where you learn or teach? Check out our resources for schools