In a climate of growing environmental and ethical consciousness, the number of individuals adopting vegan lifestyles is steadily rising. As a result, the question of whether schools should be vegan-inclusive has become increasingly relevant.

This blog will explore the reasons behind considering vegan-inclusive practices in schools, and will delve into the potential benefits, challenges, and practical steps that can be taken to create a more supportive environment for pupils and staff who choose vegan lifestyles.

What is Veganuary?

Veganuary, a movement that originated in the UK in 2014, has grown into a global campaign that encourages individuals to embrace a vegan lifestyle for the month of January and beyond. This initiative aims to raise awareness of the benefits of plant-based diets, not only for personal health but also for the environment and animal welfare.

According to Veganuary, more than 700,000 people worldwide officially signed up on their website to try a vegan lifestyle in 2023, and supermarkets saw a 21% uplift in sales across their own-brand of plant-based products during Veganuary (according to Kantar).

Celebrity Ambassadors for Veganuary include:

  • Joaquin Phoenix
  • Billie Eilish
  • Paul McCartney
  • Chris Packham
  • Evanna Lynch
  • Alexis Gauthier
  • Sara Pascoe
  • Alicia Silverstone

Veganuary signifies a cultural shift towards a more sustainable way of living, showcasing the collective impact of individual choices on global well-being.

Adopting a Vegan-Inclusive Education

In 2021, the BBC’s Good Food Nation Survey found that 8% of children have a vegan-based lifestyle, with 15% saying they would like to go vegan. With more children having a vegan diet, schools are encouraged to recognise the importance of being vegan-inclusive.

Schools have a legal obligation, under the Equalities Act 2010, to protect and support vegan pupils by providing appropriate food, addressing bullying, and creating an inclusive environment. As the vegan population grows, schools that embrace vegan-inclusivity will be better prepared for the future where plant-based diets are becoming increasingly mainstream.

Advantages for Vegan-Inclusive Schools

  • Ethical Considerations: The ethical argument for a vegan-inclusive education evolves around fostering compassion and empathy. By incorporating vegan beliefs into the curriculum and school values, schools can encourage pupils to develop a deeper understanding of the impact of their choices.
  • Health Benefits: Educating pupils about the nutritional benefits of plant-based diets can empower them to make informed decisions about their food consumption. Offering vegan options can help ensure that all pupils have access to a variety of healthy meals.
  • Inclusivity and Diversity: Schools are encouraged to create inclusive environments that celebrate diversity. Integrating educational programmes that teach pupils about veganism can include workshops, classes, or even inviting speakers.
  • Environmental Impact: Animal agriculture is a significant contributor to climate change and other environmental problems. Reducing meat consumption in schools can help lessen the environmental impact of the food system. Educating pupils about the environmental effects can empower them to make informed choices that align with sustainability goals, helping to reduce carbon footprints and preserve natural resources.

Disadvantages Against Vegan-Inclusive Schools

  • Costs: Implementing a vegan-inclusive menu can be more expensive than providing traditional meals. Some schools may not have the budget or resources to do so.
  • Logistics and Practically: Preparing and serving vegan meals may require additional kitchen space, equipment, and staff training. This can be challenging for some schools, especially those with limited resources.
  • Nutritional Concerns: Some believe that a vegan diet may not be nutritious enough for children, especially if not planned carefully. However, with proper planning and guidance, vegan diets can be just as nutritious as non-vegan diets.
  • Other Dietary Restrictions: Schools may already be struggling to accommodate other dietary restrictions, such as allergies and religious beliefs. Adding vegan options to the mix could further complicate matters.

Finding a Balance

There is no easy answer to the question of whether schools should be vegan-inclusive. Ultimately, the decision should be determined individually, considering the unique conditions of each school. However, it is important to have an open and informed discussion about this issue. Schools should be willing to consider the needs of all pupils, including those who follow a vegan lifestyle.

Possible Solutions

Here are some possible solutions that could help schools become more vegan-inclusive:

  • Start Small: Schools can start by offering one or two vegan options on the menu each day.
  • Work with Parents: Schools can work with parents to ensure that vegan meals are nutritious and appealing to pupils.
  • Provide Education: Schools can provide education about veganism to pupils. This can help to dispel myths and misconceptions about vegan diets. By reviewing and revising the curriculum, schools can create a more inclusive environment.
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  • Seek Resources: There are a number of organisations that can provide resources and support to schools that are interested in becoming more vegan-inclusive.

Vegan Inclusive EducationIncludes good/bad practices in schools, vegan-inclusive resources, booklists and school meal suggestions – Download guide

The Vegan Society – Resources with information on how to accommodate the needs of vegans in education – Learn more

Plant-Based Health Professionals – Support on plant-based food in schools – Learn more

Vegan Family GuideFor learning materials such as arts and crafts – Learn more


By integrating Veganuary into the educational framework, schools have a powerful strategy to support vegan pupils, promote sustainability, ethical understandings, and raise health awareness. Embracing this global movement contributes to shaping a generation of informed and environmentally responsible individuals, fostering inclusivity of veganism and mindfulness of its impact on personal well-being and the planet.

Acknowledging the complexity of the issue, schools can create welcoming and inclusive environments for all pupils by considering arguments for and against vegan-inclusive practices and finding creative solutions.

About the author

Picture of Holly McLeod

Holly McLeod

Brand Communications Coordinator at Educater

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