Filmed at Great Missenden C of E Combined School, in Buckinghamshire, the video features award-winning chef Rachel Demuth running two cookery workshops – one with children from the School Nutrition Action Group (who made Vietnamese Paper Rolls with Mango & Kiwi Salsa, and Spaghetti Vegetable Salad with Salsa Verde) and one with the school’s cooks (who made Date and Aubergine Tagine, Couscous with Fresh Herbs and Cumin & Coriander Yoghurt Dip).
“We’re a very environmentally-aware school and we encourage the children to think about bigger issues”, said Carys Martin, Food for Life Co-ordinator at the school. “It’s making children realise that they don’t need meat to give you all the protein that you require. It’s a small thing that everybody can do which will make a big difference.”
The government is also getting behind the idea: “Encourage all children to have a meat-free day each week, using alternatives such as pulses, soya mince, tofu and Quorn”, is one of their “Top Tips” in the recently launched School Food Standards: A practical guide for schools their cooks and caterers, applicable in English schools from January.
The healthy school food momentum is growing in other parts of the world too. More and more education establishments are providing weekly meat-free days including four whole US school districts: Los Angeles, Baltimore, South Miami and San Diego. In Europe, cities such as Ghent, Helsinki and Gothenburg provide meat-free days through their public catering and a large number of schools in Asia support Meat Free Monday including in Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea.
Schools wishing to make the 2014-15 school year a Meat Free Monday one can check out case studies, more videos and ideas for getting started here.