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YOUNG VEGGIES - Veggie Month 2002
Posted 1 February 2002
Ronny Worsey spells out the themes for Veggie Month 2002.
March is Animal Aid's Veggie Month and, in recognition of the growing number of young people taking a stand against animal cruelty, the theme this year will be vegetarian children and teenagers. We will be publicising the fact that veggie kids are standing up to be counted and have just as much right to be catered for as adults.
Today's youngsters are tomorrow's teachers, parents and health care workers, and those who go veggie will hopefully carry their compassionate ideals with them for the rest of their lives. As most children are unable to buy and cook their own meals, they depend upon parents and school to give them the kind of food they want and need, so if schools serve a range of appetising veggie meals, Britain's youngsters are far more likely to become and stay meat-free.
In October, we launched a national survey, which sought to determine how well schools provide for vegetarians. It featured eight simple questions, asking respondents to state how many veggie options are provided and to comment on the quality and variety of the food served. We sent survey forms to our youth members and supporters, enclosed them in the last Outrage magazine and made them available at school talks. The Born Free Foundation also kindly offered to mail them out to their youth members for us.
The survey results have just been published and make fascinating reading. 'Vegetarian Food School Report' contains our survey results, along with quotes and observations from the participants and our recommendations for change. Overall, 18% the schools surveyed offer four or more vegetarian options a day, wheras a very disappointing 27% sometimes or often have days where no veggie option is served.
We discovered that many schools label fish dishes as vegetarian, that cross-contamination between meat and veggie foods sometimes occurs, and that vegans are rarely catered for. In schools with staggered lunch breaks, the vegetarian pupils who eat last frequently find that all the vegetarian meals have already gone, leaving them no option but to snack on crisps or chips.
We have divided the schools up into regions and will award certificates to the best and worst schools in those areas. We plan to visit the winning schools with a giant 'smiling plate' mascot in order to hand over their certificates in person. The worst schools will be offered advice about improving the variety and quality of their vegetarian options.
We have also produced a lively new colour booklet for kids called Young Veggies, which sets out all the arguments against meat-eating in a direct and simple style. It contains facts, suggestions and answers to common questions, and we're sure it will become a valuable campaigning tool.
Taking the veggie pledge
As usual, we will be calling on people to take our 'veggie pledge' for at least a week during March. This involves giving up meat for a trial period in the hope that the change becomes permanent. Existing veggies can join in too, by taking a pledge to go vegan. We have plenty of pledge forms available for you to hand out to friends, give out on street stalls, take along to school talks or distribute elsewhere. The pledge forms also encourage people to be sponsored for their efforts, helping to raise much-needed funds for Animal Aid.
Good luck Kirsten
One well-known person taking the pledge this year is children's TV presenter Kirsten O'Brien. At present, Kirsten eats chicken and fish, but we hope she'll want to stick to a totally veggie diet after her pledge week.
As ever, we depend upon our members and supporters to make this year's Veggie Month a roaring success. You can help by distributing leaflets, organising a library display, writing to your local paper and doing whatever else you can to raise awareness.
- Please order some Veggie Pledge forms from the Animal Aid office. Even if you persuade only one person to go meat-free for a trial week, you will be helping to save animals' lives. If that one person carries on being meat-free for the rest of his or her life, you'll have helped to save up to 20 pigs, 29 sheep, 5 cows, 780 chickens, 46 turkeys, 18 ducks and about 1,000 fish - estimated to be the average number of animals consumed by one person in a lifetime.
- Send for your free veggie pack and during March we will also include a free copy of the new Young Veggies booklet. (Multiple copies of the booklet are also available at £1 for 10, £4 for 50, £7 for 100.)
- Support Animal Aid's Veggie Month campaign - make an online donation now.