Members of the European Parliament have today voted against the inclusion of plant-based drinks in schools, which represents a significant blow to children who cannot, or do not want to consume, dairy milk.
The majority of MEPs failed to include plant-based drinks within their own initiative report on the EU School Scheme, which benefits around 20 million children across Europe.
“We are very disappointed by the outcome of this vote, but we are hopeful that the European Commission will still move ahead and include plant-based drinks in the scheme as part of their review, which is out at the end of the year ,” Lucia Hortelano, EU Policy Manager at ProVeg International, said.
“Many children in the EU cannot or do not want to drink cow’s milk for medical, ethical, taste, or environmental reasons. Including fortified plant-based milk alternatives is essential in terms of inclusion, availability, sustainability and affordability. Offering plant-based milk alternatives such as soy and pea drinks constitute an equally nutritious counterpart to dairy products and it is crucial for kids’ inclusion at schools,” Hortelano added.
The great potential for the EU to fight the climate emergency
By integrating fortified unsweetened plant-based milk alternatives into the Scheme, the EU can demonstrate its dedication to inclusion, providing children with more options. This is especially important for those who cannot or do not want to consume cow’s milk, and who are actively seeking out ethical, climate-friendly, and healthy substitutes.
The scheme has huge potential to become the EU public procurement tool for the inclusion of sustainable and environmentally friendly products for children across Europe. Including plant-based drinks into the scheme will boost EU efforts towards more sustainable diets, in alignment with the Food Systems Framework initiative.
In cooperation with an alliance of businesses and NGOs, ProVeg had co-signed a joint position letter supporting widening the scope of eligible products in the EU School Scheme to recognise the needs of all school children by catering for children who cannot or do not want to drink cow’s milk for medical, ethical, taste, or environmental reasons.
The European Commission will now work on publishing a new proposal to implement the EU-funded Scheme. ProVeg calls the European Commission tol bring about change, and introduce unsweetened fortified plant-based alternatives to milk to the scheme.
Notes to Editors
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About ProVeg International
ProVeg International is a food awareness organisation working to transform the global food system by replacing advancing plant-based diets 50% of animal products, globally, with plant-based and cultivated foods by 2040.
ProVeg engages with all relevant stakeholders to create a food system where everyone chooses delicious and healthy food that is good for all humans, animals, and our planet.
ProVeg has received the United Nations’ Momentum for Change Award and works closely with key UN food and environment agencies. We have observer status with the UNFCCC and the IPCC, special consultative status with ECOSOC, and are accredited for UNEA.