Schools are being urged to serve more plant-based meals in a new campaign called 'School Plates' by food awareness organisation ProVeg UK.
Working with schools, local authorities and catering companies, ProVeg UK is calling for five small changes to menus to increase children's intake of healthy plant-based foods.
In a statement to Plant Based News, Director of ProVeg UK, Jimmy Pierson, said: "Plant-based foods are mostly cheaper, and that is great news for schools whose budgets are tightening.
"They're healthy and good for pupils in both the short and long-term as well as helping the environment and therefore protecting the future for everyone. We call this a win-win-win-win.
"We're starting with relatively minor, easy-to-implement tweaks, but these can make a big difference in so many ways. Schools can deliver these benefits by simply offering a bean burger over a beef burger, or a cassoulet over a casserole - and we can help them every step of the way."
In a bid to bring caterers up to speed with plant-based cooking, ProVeg is offering training from expert plant-based chefs; the services of a nutritionist to ensure that meals are balanced, wholesome and healthy; and a scientist who can measure the climate emissions savings - all free of charge.
Derek Sarno, Chef and Director of Plant-Based Innovation for Tesco as well as co-creator of the Wicked Kitchen range, said: "Food is powerful, empowering, and over time can promote or destroy good health in both our bodies and the environment.
"I make plants the centre of every meal, and I think the five recommendations in ProVeg UK's campaign are a great starting point."
According to ProVeg, there are many reasons why children should eat more plants.
"Increasing fruit and veg consumption can help address some of the nation's biggest health concerns including childhood obesity, which the World Health Organisation regards as one of the most important challenges of the 21st century," the organization says.
"Schools can also play an integral role in encouraging pupils to establish healthy eating habits from an early age, and plant-based meals are suitable for almost everyone, whatever faith and whatever their dietary requirements."
The initiative follows a campaign launched this year by The Vegan Society, calling on the Government to offer more vegan food in public sector canteens including prisons, hospitals, schools, workplaces and universities.
The long-running campaign - which sees the organization lobbying for these institutions to accommodate the increasing number of people opting for plant-based food - is a response to the 'challenging situations' the society's advocacy team often hears about from vegans in schools, hospitals and prisons.
"Veganism has been found to come within the scope of international human rights provisions and vegans in the UK are protected under human rights and equality law," says the Society.
"Therefore vegans should already have the right to suitable, animal-free catering in public sector settings."
ProVeg UK is currently looking for more schools, teachers, parents, local authorities and catering companies interested in taking part in theSchool Platescampaign.
Please firstname.lastname@example.org more information and to get involved.