More than 50,000 people have now signed a petition by food awareness organisation ProVeg International calling on the European Commission to allow plant-based milk under the EU school fruit, vegetables and milk scheme.
The EU scheme does not currently include calcium-fortified plant-based milk and the Commission is inviting feedback from the public as part of a consultation process which ends on July 28, 2022.
The petition (schoolmilk.org), which uses the hashtag ‘#schoolmilk’ on social media, gives European citizens the opportunity to support climate-friendly options on the school menu.
Jasmijn de Boo, vice-president of ProVeg said: “It is fantastic that so many people have signed our petition so far and we really hope that more people will sign up to send a clear message to the European Commission of the need for fortified plant-milks in schools.
“Plant-based milks fortified with calcium are sustainable and healthy options that should be included in the school scheme as European society shifts towards a more plant-based diet.
“Offering plant-based milks will help the EU to decarbonise society and at the same time allow for greater choice for those who do not want to drink cow’s milk with their school meal.”
Push for plant-based milk
ProVeg has said that it is making the case for including plant-based milks in the scheme on the following grounds:
- The inclusion of calcium-fortified plant-based milk aligns with the commission’s rationale for the review, namely to “create a favourable food environment that makes it easier to choose a healthy and sustainable diet” as part of the EU Farm to Fork strategy;
- Plant-based milks can support a balanced and healthy diet;
- Nutrition experts state that soya milk that is fortified with calcium can be used as a nutritionally adequate alternative to cow’s milk;
- Globally, about 68% of people are lactose intolerant. While the school milk scheme already provides lactose-free cow’s milk, it is important to provide a greater choice at lunchtime for those who are lactose intolerant and want to drink plant milk;
- Some plant-based milks have a carbon footprint 63-78% smaller than animal-based milk;
- Concerns about the welfare of animals during the transportation and production process of dairy are not an issue with plant-based milks;
- Plant-based milks 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.
“Both the EU’s Farm to Fork strategy and the Beating Cancer plan recommend adopting more plant-based diets, and this includes plant-based alternatives to conventional dairy products,” de Boo added.
“We urge the commission to embrace the opportunity with this review to make calcium-fortified plant-based milks eligible products in the scheme and thus ensure greater choice of milk drinks for children across Europe.”