Policy

ProVeg calls on the EU to include plant-based milk in the EU’s school scheme

The EU is reviewing their School Scheme in line with the Farm to Fork Strategy, which aims to shift towards more plant-based diets. ProVeg International welcomed the opportunity to provide feedback for the review and calls on the European Commission to revise EU School Schemes rules to integrate plant-based foods among eligible products.

When reviewing the EU school scheme, the health of our children and their future on our planet should be of main concern, not corporate interests. A balanced and healthy diet should therefore be the focus of the scheme. The EU has committed to decarbonise its economy, foster sustainable and healthy food systems, and step up the fight against the major health threat that is cancer. To achieve those objectives, both the Farm to Fork Strategy and Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan recommend adopting more plant-based diets, and this includes plant-based alternatives to dairy products.

 

Offering plant milk at schools contribute to inclusivity

Therefore, the school scheme should integrate more plant-based foods among eligible products, offering more diverse sources of proteins than only dairy products. Plant-based alternatives to dairy can be equally as nutritious as dairy, and in addition most dairy alternatives contain less unsaturated fats and fewer calories.1

This helps to address childhood obesity, regarded by the World Health Organisation as one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century. People and their children choose plant milks over cow’s milk for a variety of reasons, whether it is for animal welfare, its lower environmental impact, because of a dairy allergy or lactose intolerance, or simply out of personal preference. As much as 75 % of the world’s adult human population is intolerant to ingested dietary lactose. Plant-based milks also contribute to inclusivity as they can offer all children, including those who choose not to consume dairy products, the chance to drink milk of some kind.

One in two American and European consumers uses plant milk, either by itself or in addition to cow’s milk, while in the Asia-Pacific and Latin American regions, it’s more than two-thirds of all consumers. This indicates that school offers are lagging behind societal trends and need to catch up in order to fulfill changing consumer demands.

Plant Milk as the environmentally-friendly option

There’s also an urgent environmental need for this shift since the livestock sector is responsible for about 14.5 % of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, with dairy cattle contributing 20 % thereof.2 Indeed, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has stated that the livestock sector is a significant contributor to climate change. The water footprint of any animal-based product is bigger than the water footprint of plant-based products with an equal nutritional value. In comparison to the different varieties of plant milk, cow’s milk has the biggest environmental impact in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and land and water use. For example, one litre of cow’s milk requires more than 22 times more water and roughly 12 times more land, and emits three times more greenhouse gas emissions than one litre of soya milk. Other types of plant milk such as oat and rice milk are similarly sustainable.3

ProVeg International thus calls on the European Commission and Member States to review the EU School Scheme rules with a view to integrating plant-based foods among eligible products and reinforcing the EU standards for food equity and education for children across Europe.

You can find the full submission here.

References

  1. https://localhost/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/PV_Plant_Milk_Report_281019-1.pdf [21/07/21]
  2. http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/197623/icode/ [21/07/21]
  3. https://localhost/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/PV_Plant_Milk_Report_281019-1.pdf [21/07/21]

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