MEPs urged to vote for inclusion of plant milk in EU School Scheme
5 May 2023
Alliance tells Parliament to align green goals and include plant-based milk in schools
An alliance of 32 organisations, including ProVeg International, Greenpeace, Humane Society International, Compassion in World Farming and European Vegetarian Union, have signed a position paper urging MEPs to vote on Tuesday (9 May) to add plant-based milk to the EU School Scheme.
The EU School Scheme supports more than 20 million children across Europe through the distribution of milk, fruit and vegetables. But plant-based milk alternatives are not currently included within the Scheme, even though many children can not, or do not want to, consume dairy milk for medical, ethical, taste, or environmental reasons.
The European Commission is currently in the process of reviewing the School Scheme and MEPs have the chance to influence, via an own-initiative report, the Commission’s final decision in a vote at a plenary session being held on 9 May, following a discussion in Parliament on 8 May.
“There are multiple reasons why it is very important – and long overdue – for MEPs to vote in favour of including fortified plant-based milk alternatives in the EU School Scheme. Including fortified plant-based milk alternatives is essential in terms of inclusion, availability, sustainability and affordability. ” Lucia Hortelano, EU Policy Manager at ProVeg International, said.
“Many children in the EU can’t or do not want to drink cow’s milk. Offering plant-based milk alternatives such as unsweetened fortified plant-based drinks like soy and pea drinks constitute an equally nutritious counterpart to dairy products,” Hortelano said.
The joint position paper calls on the European Parliament to support the inclusion of fortified plant-based alternatives to milk as eligible products within the upcoming review of the EU School Scheme.
The paper specifically notes that:
- Fortified plant-based milk alternatives, such as unsweetened/low sugar plant-based drinks, are a healthy and nutritious alternative to milk for those children who cannot or do not want to drink cow’s milk;
- Plant-based milk alternatives can help reduce the climate footprint of our diets, given their lower environmental impact; and
- Plant-based foods and drinks provide market opportunities. Farmers have an important role to play in the just transition towards alternative protein and crop production – and the broadening of EU School Scheme products could play a key role in this transition.
In addition to this, EU policies, including the Farm to Fork Strategy and an upcoming proposal for a legislative framework for sustainable food systems (FSFS), send out a clarion call for making the food production system more climate-friendly.
Given that 70% of the EU’s agricultural emissions are attributed to livestock farming (European Court of Auditors (2021).), the EU has the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability that benefits both the people and the planet by widening the scope to also include plant-based milk alternatives in the Scheme.
“It’s essential to align the School Scheme with the European Green Deal and include the growing number of Europeans looking for alternatives. Food system change is vital to tackle the climate crisis and the EU School Scheme should support this change, not hinder it.,” Lucia Hortelano said.
“The European Parliament has a key opportunity here to help set the EU on a more climate-friendly path by voting in favour of including plant-based milk alternatives in schools. We urge them to make their support loud and clear,” Hortelano added.
Notes to Editors
For media inquiries, email Lucia Hortelano 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 cultivated 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.