Angry parents have blasted a nursery which has implemented a plant-based menu in a bid to reduce its carbon footprint.
From January 2020, Jigsaw Day Nurseries in Chester, will stop serving meat, dairy, and eggs to its 260 children aged 0-4. The new menu will feature dishes like veg curries, 'shepherdess' pie made with lentils instead of meat, and coconut rice pudding.
Multiple parents, who say the decision was made without a consultation, have branded the move 'discrimination' against their meat-eating kids, saying the nursery is 'imposing a lifestyle choice'.
For the planet and health
But Jigsaw founder Claire Taylor has defended the move, which she says was 'made with the children and the planet's future in mind'.
She told the Chester Standard: "We appreciate that this is a decision that comes with a business risk associated, however, we feel passionately that a sustainable path is the one we wish to follow for the benefit of our children's future.
"The food that the children eat within our nurseries not only has an impact on everyone in the setting but also on the health of our planet."
Taylor cited research from recent years, which highlights the damaging environmental impact of meat and dairy products, saying that creating meals and snacks for 260 children and 70 staff means the nursery has a 'significant food footprint to consider'.
She added that the food on offer, which was created in collaboration with a fully-qualified nutritionist, offers a 'highly nutritious, varied and sustainable menu which meets all of the relevant guidelines for early years nutrition and diet for children under the age of five'.
In addition, the dishes were based on existing meals served at Jigsaw, so the children are 'fully familiar with the tastes, textures and flavours we are going to be feeding them'.
One anonymous parent branded the move 'plain wrong' - saying it discriminates against kids who eat animal products.
"To impose a lifestyle choice on these children before they can make their own mind up is plain wrong," they added. "If anything, it discriminates against those kids who enjoy a diet of meat and fish. To ban them from eating meat is outrageous. It's simply not their decision to make.
"I like to think I cook healthy and nutritious meals for my children which include meat and vegetables. My son has a big appetite as well, I think he'll come home starving. To go veggie is one thing, but to go full-on vegan is just madness."
Not all parents were as angry - by the decision. One mum took to Facebook to share her positive views on the issue, writing: "It's like saying you don't want your children to be educated in what will save our planet!
"Vegan or not, this is an incredibly healthy-sounding menu, and I am thrilled our son will be eating this kind of food. If anything, it takes the pressure off having to feed him uber-healthy food at home because I know he'll have had a wholesome and nutritious meal at nursery.
"If Jigsaw loses a few customers due to this change, they will only gain more from new, interested, and like-minded parents, so it's not a business risk at all."
In addition, a local Friends of the Earth group has congratulated the nursery for making this decision.
In a Facebook post, Friends of the Earth Chester and District wrote: "By the time these children grow up they may have little choice in eating much meat.
"Climate Change will affect the young the most and the Nursery is protecting their future."