In January 2022, the Lady of Sion School in Worthing, a seaside town in West Sussex, England, became what is believed to be the first UK school with a 100% vegan canteen. Five months later it has proven to be a great success. Because vegan meals are the most inclusive meals as vegetarians and people from any religion can eat them, there is no discrimination in this school as everyone has the same food options (unlike most schools where meat-eating pupils have more food choices).
The school worked with a nutritionist to make sure that the dishes were nourishing. The school partnered with Plant Based School Kitchens, which is a branch of a local vegan café The Vegan Street Food Co. They ensured that every allergen was eliminated in meal preparation.
Headteacher Steven Jeffery said to iNews, “Kids often can’t quite believe that it’s vegan, and parents are now saying it’s given them an opportunity to try things in the week because they were not sure how to manage it at home as well…We’ve had no negatives — and I was expecting to have to fight—– but it’s been really positive… We’re very much multicultural, we’ve got Muslims, Jews, Hindus as well as Christian and non-religious [pupils], so it’s quite nice to have a menu that anyone can eat, and they’re not excluded because of religious beliefs as well, so that also was seen as positive.” Pupils are still allowed to bring in what they like in their packed lunches, but 100% of the school’s catering is now plant-based, serving dishes such as black bean and quinoa meatballs in barbecue sauce, veggie fajitas with Mexican rice and meatless feast pizza. The headteacher also said that vegan families have moved into the area because of their school. Schools in other parts of the world should learn from this experience (especially the Ikastola school in Oiartzun, Gipuzkoa, Basque Country, which is “threatening” vegan pupils with expulsion for demanding vegan options).