Scotland

Vegan school meal options promised after mother's campaign

Mia Kasravi at a table in her school, drawing a picture with crayons Image copyright Alexis Kasravi
Image caption Children will now be able to get vegan meals at all schools in the Mia's council area

A Scottish council has agreed to provide vegan meals in all its schools, following one mum's campaign.

Alexis Kasravi, whose five-year-old daughter attends a school in Clydebank, had petitioned West Dunbartonshire Council for the change since her daughter was in nursery.

She struggled to find options to feed her daughter and faced opposition from council officers.

But now all schools and nurseries in the area will provide vegan meals.

Ms Kasravi's daughter, Mia, has been vegan for two years. She told BBC Radio Scotland Mia has "adapted very well" to the diet.

No vegan options

The problems started when Mia was in nursery last August. She said the nursery initially agreed to provide vegan meals but after a few weeks this was stopped by a council officer.

"The head of catering came into the nursery and said to them 'No you have to stop. You're not allowed to provide for Mia. The mother is not allowed to provide for Mia. And we're not going to provide either'," she said.

Image copyright Alexis Kasravi
Image caption Ms Kasravi campaigned for her daughter to have vegan school meals

The nursery does not allow parents to send food in for their children, in case of allergies and other health issues.

Ms Kasravi then contacted a vegan charity who helped her challenge the policy.

The Vegan Society promotes lifestyles free from the use of animal products. It was recently registered in Scotland.

Dr Jeanette Rowley, the charity's legal adviser, said: "We are delighted to have been able to help Alexis and Mia."

"All children, regardless of their ethical convictions, should be able to benefit from government-funded schemes; we applaud the school and council for recognising this."

"Veganism is protected under human rights and equality law, which means if a child is eligible for a free school meal, the duty is not to discriminate by providing a vegan option."

Selection of vegetables and vegan foods
Getty Images
'Children don't learn unless they're being properly and happily fed'
Chris McGovern
Chairman of the Campaign for Real Education

Chris McGovern, a former head teacher and chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, which works to raise standards and choice in state education, praised West Dunbartonshire's decision.

"Children don't learn unless they're being properly and happily fed," he said

Ms Kasravi is relieved she will not have to ask for vegan meals to be provided when her daughter reaches secondary school.

But West Dunbartonshire Council remains one of only a handful of Scottish local authorities to provide for vegan children.

Chef Craig Grozier said vegan food was not necessarily more difficult or expensive "if you do it cleverly".

He said the important thing was for school and parents to talk to each other about dietary needs.

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