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‘We need to be eating less meat’

Chris Packham calls for more plant-based school meals
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Chris Packham

TV presenter and conservationist Chris Packham has joined ProVeg UK’s pioneering School Plates programme as an official ambassador, urging schools to introduce more plant-based options on lunch menus. 

The non-profit organisation has made over 6.4 million school meals healthier and more sustainable by becoming meat free or plant based.

By advising on school menus, developing delicious new recipes and delivering chef training workshops – all free of charge – the ProVeg UK team helps schools to increase the quality and quantity, and the uptake, of veggie meals.

In a video published by ProVeg UK, Packham said: ‘[School Plates] is a great initiative – it’s all about getting young people in schools to explore a more plant-based diet, because, we’ve got to be honest here – in order for us to hope for a healthier, happier, more sustainable future, we need to make some changes.

‘One of the things that we can do relatively easily here in the UK is change what we eat. There’s no ambiguity about the fact that we need to be eating less meat. What we’re interested in is a transition – asking people who eat a lot [of meat] to eat a little less, being patient and kind as they go through that process.

‘Working with caterers, and with staff and all those people working in school kitchens, giving the training and encouragement to try more plant-based food… School Plates is a really great idea. So please do try to get involved!’

School meal emissions

It is estimated that UK schools serve around 750 million meals every year with most containing animal products.

Food production is responsible for 78% of the emissions of an average UK school catering service, with more than half attributed to meat.

Yet over 82% of UK local authorities have now declared a climate emergency, with many now actively seeking to address the crisis with menu change. 

Climate-friendly school menus

ProVeg UK works with 37 major school caterers, mostly local authorities, across the UK to create more inclusive, nutritious and climate-friendly school menus.

The School Plates programme currently covers 3,500 schools feeding 588,000 children each day, and has so far reduced food emissions by over 5 million kilograms – equivalent to the annual emissions of over 1,300 cars.

‘We’re absolutely delighted to welcome Chris Packham, such an inspirational and influential environmentalist, to our team as an official ambassador of our School Plates programme. 

‘The work we’re doing to make school food healthier and more sustainable is crucial. Chris has for a long time recognised the benefits of eating more plant-based food, so to have his respected voice amplify our work to a wider audience is brilliant news – for children’s health, and the future of our planet.’

Director of ProVeg UK

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