Do public authorities have a duty to supply vegan food?
This week Vegetarian for Life Chief Executive, Amanda Woodvine, was a guest speaker at the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Vegetarianism and Veganism.
The quarterly meeting, which is held at the Houses of Parliament, focuses on working towards changing laws for the betterment of vegans and vegetarians.
This session looked at public procurement – and whether public authorities have a duty to supply vegan food.
Along with Amanda, special guest speaker Nuno M. Alvim, president of the Portuguese Vegetarian Association also spoke at the meeting, which was chaired by MP Christina Rees.
He, along with his group and a petition of 15,000 residents in Portugal, was able to change to law to ensure that public authorities are now legally obligated to provide vegan meals in schools, hospitals and prisons.
Speaking at the meeting he spoke about why they had been successful – and said the support of the public, attention from the media which then went on to support their campaign, and also the Ministry of Health backed their pleas for healthier options. The law was eventually changed after a year of petitioning in June 2017.
He said: “Some said what we did was groundbreaking. Other countries have got in touch and want to replicate what we did in their own country and of course we want to help.”
Amanda spoke about how care homes in the public sector are on their way to ensuring more vegan meals.
She said that HC-One, which has over 300 care homes in the UK have adopted vegan options and have been surprised by the uptake of the plant-based meals. Amanda added that there has been a 10 per cent rise in residents requesting plant-based alternatives.
She also detailed that Bidfood, one of the largest food care suppliers in the UK, have now introduced a fully vegan range of over 200 products. Amanda said: “It has never been easier for public authorities to offer vegan alternatives.”
Dave Oliver, head of catering for Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, also attended the meeting. He detailed the vegan options that are currently available for inmates. He said: “We are on the right lines and listening all the time.”
Mark Banahan, campaigns and policy officer for The Vegan Society, and Amy Odene, campaign manger at ProVeg UK, also spoke about their recent campaigns trying to urge schools and hospitals to also adopt more plant-based options on the basis of health for younger people and childhood obesity.
Chair Christina Rees added she was ‘optimistic’ about the progression of this topic.
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