The Healthy Start scheme is a means-tested initiative offering pregnant women or parents with children under four vouchers to help buy some basic foods including milk, fruit, and vegetables from local retailers.
Currently, it only offers vouchers that can only be used to purchase cow's milk, and free supplements containing animal-derived vitamin D.
The Vegan Society
Now The Vegan Society has written a formal letter to the NHS saying the restriction imposed by the NHS on the purchase of plant milk and the lack of vegan-friendly vitamin D unfairly and unreasonably disadvantages vegans.
The letter prompts the NHS to remove the restriction on the purchase of plant milk and provide a vegan alternative to the supplement containing animal-derived vitamin D.
In a statement sent to Plant Based News, Dr. Jeanette Rowley, Vegan Rights Advocate at The Vegan Society, and solicitor Edie Bowles from Advocates for Animals said the Healthy Start Voucher Scheme is 'discriminatory without any lawful justification'.
Heather Russell, Dietitian at The Vegan Society, added: "It is important for everyone to eat calcium-rich foods daily and fortified plant milk plays an important role in vegan nutrition.
"In fact, the UK's Eatwell Guide recognises that fortified plant milk represents a valuable alternative to cow's milk. Calcium content is comparable and the soya variety is similar to cow’s milk in terms of protein quantity and quality."
Plant Based News has contacted the NHS for comment.