EU citizens want plant-based milk on offer in schools
24 November 2022
Consultation results will influence a Commission proposal due out next year, which could expand the scope of the Scheme.
The European Commission today (November 24th) presented the preliminary findings from the public consultation on the EU School Fruit, Vegetables and Milk Scheme at a conference in Brussels. The conference was also held to gather views that will feed into a preliminary Commission proposal on the scheme, to be drafted early next year.
At the conference, the Commission revealed that the public consultation had found 72% of respondents wanted plant-based milks to be included in the scheme.
“We are really delighted by the outcome of the consultation which made it overwhelmingly clear that plant-based milks have a place in the EU School Scheme,” Lucia Hortelano, EU Policy Manager at ProVeg, said.
“The conference also made several references to the need to transition to a more sustainable scheme, and we believe that the introduction of plant-based milks should be one of the solutions,” she added.
The scheme, which benefits over 20 million children across Europe, has huge potential to be a flagship initiative for the inclusion of sustainable and environmentally friendly products for children across Europe. Incorporating plant-based milks into the school scheme will show that the EU really wants to offer greater choice to children who are unable, or unwilling, to consume dairy milk and are seeking out a healthy, climate-friendly and ethical alternative.
Earlier this year, ProVeg raised a petition calling for the inclusion of calcium-fortified, unsweetened plant-based milk into the scheme, which 75,000 people have since signed.
“We already knew that a lot of people were in favour of including plant-based milks in the EU scheme and the results of the public consultation supports this,” Hortelano said.
“Unsweetened, calcium-enriched plant-based milks offer children greater choice of what they can drink at school mealtimes, allowing those with allergies and intolerances to feel included. Some children are also concerned about animal welfare and with plant milk, these concerns are not raised,” she said.
“Both the EU’s Farm to Fork strategy and the Beating Cancer plan mention the importance of moving to a more plant-based diet, and this includes plant-based alternatives to conventional dairy products,” she added.
Other NGOs also celebrated the results of the public consultation.
Olga Kikou, Head of Compassion in World Farming EU, said: “These are excellent results that must pave the trajectory of the EU scheme funding school meals. It is high time schools start a meaningful transition towards healthier and more sustainable diets, engraining good habits early on in younger generations. Children should have better access to plant-based foods – including fresh fruits and vegetables, plant-based milk, legumes, nuts and grains.”
ProVeg International is also aware of the untapped potential this can have for farmers in the European Union and how growing environmental constraints are becoming a major threat to traditional farming livelihoods. Farmers have an important role to play in the just transition towards alternative-protein production and the school scheme broadening its products can play a key role in this transition.
Following the outcome of the consultation, ProVeg will continue working with policy makers and the wider public to fill any knowledge gaps that might arise on the inclusion of more plant-based products into the school scheme.
“We think it is important to inform people about these products. Moreover, we will continue to highlight how plant-based milks have the added attraction of being both climate-friendly and animal-friendly – two factors that the EU is keen to incorporate in its programmes,” Hortelano said.
Notes to Editors
For media inquiries, email Cristina Rodrigo at [email protected]
About ProVeg International
ProVeg is an international food awareness organisation working to transform the global food system by replacing conventional animal-based products with plant-based and cultured alternatives.
ProVeg works with international decision-making bodies, governments, food producers, investors, the media, and the general public to help the world transition to a society and economy that are less dependent on animal agriculture and more sustainable for humans, animals, and the planet.
ProVeg has permanent-observer status with the UNFCCC, is accredited for UNEA, and has received the United Nations’ Momentum for Change Award. ProVeg also has Observer Status at the IPCC.