School life involves more than teaching children a set curriculum and preparing them for exams. Today’s schools are heavily involved in the moral and ethical development of children, teaching them the right and wrong behaviour to equip them with the right tools for lifelong success.
As children learn more and more about the world around them, they decide which ethical choices they want to make. Recently, a growing number of young adults are choosing to make the ethical decision to turn vegan. In fact, with 42% of the vegans in the country being between the ages of 15 and 34, the rapidly increasing numbers of vegans in the UK are being led by young adults.
With schools playing such a large role in the ethical development of children, and with so many young adults choosing to become vegan, it could be the best time to introduce the first ever UK vegan school – a place that will support the beliefs of hundreds of thousands of people in the country.
Veganism: Changing Views in the Modern World
Alongside the growing numbers of vegans, there has also been a shift in the views on veganism.
To clarify: There is a distinct difference between ‘veganism’ and ‘plant-based’ eaters, the latter simply eat no meat, eggs, fish, dairy etc for health reasons. Plant-based eaters view it as a diet. Vegans, however, don’t engage in any animal exploitation, such as: animals used in entertainment, the wearing of animal skins, feathers, wool, silk on so on. They do not eat any animal parts, animal milks, honey, eggs etc. If an animal has paid, then the vegan won’t take part. But it’s a long road. Even the five pound note has animal fat in it and tyres aren’t without animal ingredients!
This shift in viewpoint from a health fad to an ethical standpoint – a belief has the potential to be protected by law in the very near future. In a landmark case (whichever side of this case you came down on, due to the complexities) of ‘unfair dismissal,’ the debate over whether veganism should legally be classed as a belief has been brought to the courts. If the case is won, then veganism could be considered a philosophical belief which, in the same category as religion, is protected under the Equality Act 2010.
As of January 2017, there are 6,814 faith schools funded by the state in England, so why shouldn’t there also be the option of vegan school?
Vegan School: The Future of UK Education
A vegan school in the UK could be the start of a revolutionary new approach to supporting the beliefs of vegans. The schools would give children a dedicated environment that understands and emphasises how being vegan can support the environment, the welfare of animals, and overall health. Children would be able to learn about how veganism impacts the world and enjoy meal times without restrictions.
Or perhaps it’s simpler than that? A space where children won’t be exposed to the eating and exploitation of animals as a normal environment!
For many, the concept of a vegan school may seem far off and only appealing to a select number of students and parents, but there have already been ground-breaking steps taken to improve education facilities for vegans. America is already home to a revolutionary vegan school – MUSE – which serves a plant-based menu and champions sustainability by teaching students about the environmental impacts of meat consumption.
The UK is also not a complete stranger to meat-free school menus. St Christopher School in Hertfordshire has a wholly vegetarian school menu with a wide and very varied meal plan for students. ‘Meat-free Mondays’, which was launched by ProVeg in 2018, is also a new introduction in 110 primary schools.
A vegan school may not be as far away as some people would believe. The number of vegans is on the rise, the views of veganism are changing, and food options are gradually being introduced into UK schools, all pointing towards a more vegan-friendly future for the country.
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