Vegans attack UK milk vouchers…for not including plant ‘milk’

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has been accused of being “discriminatory” by a vegan society for its Healthy Start Voucher Scheme which provides vouchers to pregnant women and children under the age of four years-of-age.

According to the Vegan Society, the scheme includes vouchers that “can only be used to purchase cow’s milk and free supplements containing animal-derived vitamin D”.

The Vegan Society has written a formal letter to the NHS about its scheme that allows some pregnant women and parents of young children to claim free vouchers to spend on milk, fruit and vegetables.

“We said the restriction imposed by the NHS on the purchase of plant milk and the lack of vegan-friendly vitamin D unfairly and unreasonably disadvantages vegans,” according to a statement from the group.

Vegan activists have labelled the Healthy Start Voucher Scheme – whose vouchers can also be used to purchase fruit and vegetables – as “discriminatory without any lawful justification”.

“Vegans hold ethical convictions that affect every aspect of their lives from the food they consume to the clothes they buy, to the avoidance of certain forms of entertainment.

“Veganism is therefore a protected philosophical belief under the Equality Act 2010; as vegans do not consume dairy milk, the restriction imposed by the NHS on the purchase of milk unfairly and unreasonably disadvantages vegans,” the statement said.

“We have sent a letter to the NHS prompting it to remove the restriction on the purchase of plant milk and provide a vegan alternative to the supplement containing animal-derived vitamin D.

“The NHS has 14 days to respond to the letter,” the statement, issued March 11, concluded.

According to the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), currently 98% of the UK population regularly eat dairy products.

The NFU notes that, according to medical experts, young children should drink full fat milk, whilst school aged children and adults are advised to drink semi-skimmed milk.

Healthy Start

Under the Healthy Start scheme, pregnant women and children over one and under four years old can get one £3.10 voucher per week, while children under one year old can get two £3.10 vouchers (£6.20) per week.

The vouchers can be spent on:
  • Plain cow’s milk – whole, semi-skimmed or skimmed. It can be pasteurised, sterilised, long life or UHT;
  • Plain fresh or frozen fruit and veg (fruit and vegetables with no added ingredients), whole or chopped, packaged or loose;
  • Infant formula milk that says it can be used from birth and is based on cow’s milk.

Women and children getting Healthy Start food vouchers also get vitamin coupons to swap for free Healthy Start vitamins.