Since 2014, Noelia Estraviz has been trying to persuade the Ikastola school where her vegan daughters go to have vegan options in its canteen, but now she is facing a sanctioning file that may include the expulsion of her daughters. Ikastolas are schools in the Basque Country, north of the Iberian Peninsula, where pupils learn in the Basque language. 

Noelia’s daughters, the 7-year-ole Araitz and the 11-year-old Izadi, do not have a vegan option in the dining room of their Ikastola in Oiartzun, Gipuzkoa, despite their mother Noelia asked for it eight years ago. Initially, the school removed from the two student’s plates the food of animal origin, but without offering a vegan alternative, despite the educational centre do make special diets for a very small group of students on religious grounds. 

Noelia explained to El Diario that, in 2020, she exposed their situation at a meeting of classroom representatives held at the ikastola: “When exposing what was happening to our daughters, we did not expect it, but we obtained the support of 97% of those present.” In consequence, in January 2021 a vegan menu was launched for the two students. However, in February of 2022, they took that option off. “The last straw was on 8th March, when my daughter told me that the rest of the children were given leek broth and a second course, while they were given the broth first and the leeks of that same dish, second. That’s when I decided to make public the name of the centre.” She then created FEUMVE (Familias Unidas por un Menú Vegano Escolar) a non-profit to deal with this type of discrimination. As a response, on 12th April the parents received a notification from the governing council of the ikastola informing them that they had opened a sanctioning file against them, through which they could potentially expel the girls.

Noelia said, “They say that my complaints damage the image of the centre, but those who damage the image of the centre are themselves with their actions. If I take my daughters to the dining room, it’s because we both work. They threaten us with expelling them, and if that happens, I don’t know what we are going to do.”  When this problem started only the daughters were vegan, but now all the family is.

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.