More plant-based food options in Somerset schools

More plant-based food options in Somerset schools

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Catherine Cannon started this petition to Somerset County Council and

In 2019, Somerset County Council declared a Climate Emergency. The resulting Climate Emergency Strategy sets the ambitious target of making Somerset a carbon-neutral county by 2030. Yet little is being done to address one of the biggest causes of greenhouse gas emissions - the excessive consumption of meat and dairy. The UK Government's advisory body, the Climate Change Committee, has warned that any viable approach for reaching net-zero carbon must include reducing meat consumption.  

Why schools?  

Approximately 585 million school meals are served every year in the UK, and meat dishes are responsible for half of the carbon footprint of these lunches. Current legislation states that meat must be served three days a week - that gives space for two plant-based days! Two plant-based 'Planet Friendly' lunches per week will be a huge step towards meeting our climate targets, will give the school community an opportunity to try new ways of eating and will help the next generation learn to eat more healthily and sustainably. 

Why is eating more plants healthier?    

Only 18 percent of children are currently meeting the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day in the UK! Plenty of fruit & veg in our diets is important to help prevent nutrient deficiency disorders, reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and many cancers. Two days per week in which school lunches are fully plant-based will go some way towards addressing this. 

Schools can play a crucial role in establishing healthy eating habits for children at a young age. Meals centered around healthy plant-based proteins such as lentils and pulses served with more vegetables (where possible, seasonal and local), would also be a step towards tackling the problem of insufficient fibre & veg in children's diets.  

How does plant-based food reduce climate breakdown?  

The UN estimates that animal agriculture accounts for 14% of global emissions, which is more than all transportation combined (some estimates are as high as 52%). 90% of Amazon deforestation is a result of animal agriculture and nearly half of global deforestation is caused by the expansion of crops. Soy is the number one culprit here, but most of this soy isn't consumed by us directly - more than 80% of soy is used to feed animals (including here in the UK). Soy is grown to feed pigs, chickens and cows, to feed us with meat, dairy and egg products. 

Worldwide, land that could be used to grow food for people is instead used to grow food for livestock. Oxford University estimated that if the world were on a plant-based diet we would only need to use 25% of the land we currently use now to feed the world.  

We don't need to stop eating meat, but we do need to eat less of it.  

The 'Somerset, Feed Our Future' campaign is asking the Council to: 

  • Write to all Somerset schools with a strong recommendation that they negotiate with meal suppliers to introduce two plant-based days per week (the maximum allowed under current School Food Standards) 
  • Carry out a full and independent review of school meals in Somerset in relation to the climate crisis
  • Serve more plant-based food at council venues and events 
  • Lobby national government asking them to change School Food Standards to include less meat and more veg!   
  • Generally, promote and encourage more plant-based foods 

Support the 'Somerset, Feed Our Future' campaign to build towards a healthier, more nourishing and sustainable future for ourselves, our children and our planet. 

Please, take a moment to add a short comment explaining why this is important to you, especially if you are a parent or a teacher :)  If you just add a few words, it will make our message much more powerful. Thank you very much :) 

References & further reading: 

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