Animal Save Movement is urging schools to switch to a plant-based menu for the earth, for student's health and especially for the animals. You can help make this a reality by contacting your local school and asking them to transition to a plant-based menu. Feel free to adapt the letter or speak about your own experiences to add a personal touch.
If you get a response to your letter, please forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org
What is the purpose of education if not to create transformational change?
I am writing to ask [School Name] to see if you would be interested in seeing how you can help benefit your student’s health and the planet as well as the efficiency of your operation by transitioning to a plant-based menu.
There are schools around the world already making this important change and there is widespread interest in improving the nutrition and sustainability of school food as well as lowering carbon footprints.
Improving student health:
According to the World Health Organization1, non-communicable chronic diseases (NCDs), such as heart disease, type II diabetes, and some cancers, kill 40M people every year. This accounts for approximately 74% of all deaths. At the same time, there is clear evidence that dietary factors are the greatest modifiable risk factor for NCDs. In fact, a recent Oxford University2 study found the consumption of meat was associated with higher risks of multiple NCDs. Additionally, we know that animal agriculture is responsible for increasing antibiotic resistance3 and a source of zoonotic diseases which, as we know, pose a serious threat to human health.
Increasing student safety & inclusivity:
In recent years, you have likely noticed an increase in the number of sensitivities, intolerances, allergies, and even anaphylaxis to eggs and dairy. These dietary restrictions pose challenges, and risks, to food service organizations. Borrowing from the accessibility movement, by taking a universal design approach to menu planning, the maximum number of students can be served a single meal without accommodation. This makes a plant-based menu the safest, most inclusive, and most efficient option for organizations engaged in large scale food service.
Greater cost savings:
In addition to improved efficiency and reduced risk to the safety and well-being of students, a plant-based menu can also provide substantial savings to a school’s overall food budget. In fact, by incorporating plant-based proteins and serving water as the healthy beverage of choice, as recommended in the 2019 Canada Food Guide, food budgets can be expected to be reduced by 10-20%.
Reducing your environmental footprint:
And then there is the environment. Animal agriculture uses drastically more land and water and produces more greenhouse gas emissions than any other single industry4. In fact, switching to a plant-based diet is the single most impactful change a person can make to reduce their environmental footprint.
So, the benefits of a plant-based menu in schools are:
- Nutrition: a plant-based menu can meet and exceed all the nutrient requirements for all stages of life without the negative health outcomes from a standard western diet
- Safety: no risk of exposure for students who are anaphylactic to eggs and dairy
- Efficiency: fewer meal options to prepare daily as they will be suitable for all students
- Cost: plant-based menus can reduce food costs by 10-20%
- Sustainability: plant-based diets are the single greatest way to reduce environmental impact
We know that lifelong food preferences and dietary habits are formed in childhood and adolescence, and we know that time is running out to meet our 2050 target of net-zero emissions to not exceed 1.5oc warming. Students are worried for their futures and want support to make choices that will improve the health of their planet and their health.
And the good news is that the challenges we face provide you with the opportunity to show leadership by transitioning to a plant-based menu for the health, safety, and inclusion or your students; for the health of the public and the planet; and for the financial sustainability of your school.
The best thing you can do for students is to be a shining example and serve only plant-based meals as a matter of urgency. If you are not able to do this right away, here are some steps to help you transition to a plant-based menu:
- Commit to increasing plant-based menu options for students
- Include health warnings on meals containing animal products to help students make healthier choices
- Make the plant-based option the default option when students haven’t selected a meal option
- Help educate students about the health benefits of a plant-based diet
Animal Save Movement (ASM) has a mission to promote and make accessible a plant-based diet to solve the epidemic of preventable diseases and improve the quality of life in our community. Check out ASM’s website www.plantbasedzones.org for recipes, menu planning, resources, nutrition experts, and connections with other educational facilities who have made the switch to support you with your transition to a plant-based menu. For more information feel free to email email@example.com.
- World Health Organization. (2021, February 3). Michael R. Bloomberg and Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus call for global focus on noncommunicable diseases to save lives from COVID-19.
- Papier, K., Fensom, G.K., Knuppel, A. et al. 2021
- 11 Hospital Food Champions Told us What Plant Forward Means to Them
- Ranganathan, J., Vennard, D., Waite, R., Dumas, P., Lipinski, B., Searchinger, T., & Globagri-WRR Model Authors. (2016). Shifting Diets for a Sustainable Food Future. International Food Policy Research Institute.