A new campaign has been launched to improve children’s health, help save the planet and ease school budgets.

‘School Plates’ – organised by food awareness organisation ProVeg UK – aims to work with schools, local authorities and catering companies, to increase children’s intake of healthy plant-based foods.

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.”

ProVeg UK is offering training from expert plant-based chefs who never compromise on taste; 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.

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.

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.

Derek Sarno, chef and director of plant-based innovation for Tesco, contributed to the School Plates campaign report. He 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.”

For more information, visit www.proveg.com or email schools@proveg.com.

Popular plant-based school lunches

  • Roasted vegetable pizza
  • BBQ Quorn balls
  • Cauliflower and broccoli bake
  • Veggie toad in the hole
  • Lentil and sweet potato curry
  • Vegetable enchilada
  • Falafel wrap
  • Mushroom tortellini
  • Veggie jambalaya
  • Neopolitan pasta bake

What is processed red meat and how bad is it?

Any red meat that has been salted, cured, fermented or smoked, or in any way ‘processed’, is officially classed as a carcinogen. This includes sausages, bacon, ham, hot dogs, salami and pepperoni.

A scientific analysis of data from 10 studies estimates that every 50g portion of processed meat eaten daily – about four strips of bacon or one hot dog – increases the risk of colorectal cancer by about 18% (World Health Organisation http://who.int/features/qa/cancer-red-meat/en/.