7 May 2019
Welsh petition discussed by Petitions Committee for second time
A joint response from the Minister for Education and Minister for Health misunderstood our petition and outlined the provision they already offer vegans, by special request. We highlighted this misunderstanding to the committee who considered our petition for the second time on 7 May.
This time they acknowledged that plant-based diets are more beneficial for the environment. The Welsh government recently declared a climate emergency and the committee recognised that this ask should fall under this declaration and set good practice.
The committee will now be writing to the Environment Minister and responding to the Education and Health Ministers asking them if all menus contain vegan food.
13 March 2019
Westminster petition closes
Our petition to Westminster closed on 13 March with 27,211 signatures. The government has already responded back in November, following the petition reaching 10k signatures. They have already made it clear that they are happy with the current situation, despite it failing many vegans in times of need. No further mandatory response is required from the government at this stage, but the campaign is far from over. We have a number of other avenues to explore and actions to take in order to make this happen, check out the ‘Get Involved’ section.
5 March 2019
Welsh petition closes and Petitions Committee discuss
Our petition to the National Assembly for Wales closed on 28 February, securing 1,109 signatures. The Petitions Committee immediately considered our petition at a hearing on 5 March, where they decided to write to the Minister for Health & Social Services and the Minister for Education to ask what assessment or research has been carried out on the sufficiency of vegan provision in Welsh hospitals and schools. This is an encouraging first step in what we hope will lead to Wales adopting our Catering For Everyone proposals for a plant-based option on all public sector menus.
Scottish Parliament & National Assembly for Wales events
Vegan Society staff held an event at the Scottish Parliament Building in Holyrood. We invited four local vegan caterers in a bid to showcase the entrepreneurship and talent the plant-based market is helping to support. We also outlined our Catering For Everyone campaign to Members of the Scottish Parliament present.
We held a similar event at the National Assembly for Wales, where again we invited members to learn about vegan businesses, the reasons behind the growing number of vegans in Wales and our Catering For Everyone campaign. Matt Pritchard of Dirty Sanchez fame gave a talk in which he dispelled several common myths around veganism. Currently in training to run 10 Ironman races in 10 days, Matt helped to show that vegans can thrive as athletes.
6 December 2018
The Vegan Society give evidence to Public Petitions Committee
Following the Scottish petition closing in November, Campaigns and Policy Officer Mark Banahan was invited to Holyrood to give supporting evidence to the Public Petitions Committee. Mark was joined by Barbara Bolton of the Go Vegan Scotland campaign.
We made the point that adding vegan options to menus in hospitals, schools and other public sector institutions is important for reasons of inclusivity, public health and sustainability.
The meeting ended with several positive action points to take forwards. We hope that this marks an important step in the journey to seeing a change in Scottish law, which would then act as a precedent for influencing UK law.
28 November 2018
UK government response to 10k petition signatures
After reaching 10,000 signatures, the government has responded to our petition calling for a plant-based option on every public sector menu. Disappointingly, (but unsurprisingly) they are happy with the status quo and are reluctant to make any changes to the current situation.
On 1 November, World Vegan Day, we reached 10,000 signatures on our Westminster petition, which meant that the government was obliged to respond.
The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) responded with a disappointing but not wholly unexpected response: “Public sector canteens are happy to cater for people with special dietary needs including those eating a vegan diet.”
The main reason they offer for not accepting the petition plea is summarised by this quote: “We do not think it appropriate to stipulate particular menus in the standards as these are best dealt with by meeting local customer demand.”
This is an unsatisfactory response as it avoids the fact that many institutions are not currently meeting local vegan demand, resulting in many vegans being left hungry and not being catered for in line with their protected philosophical belief.
6 November 2018
Scottish petition closes
The petition to the Scottish Parliament closed on 6 November, securing 8,778 signatures and almost 500 comments online. This is one of the most signed Scottish petitions in recent years, which shows how strongly people feel about this change.
13 September 2018
The Vegan Society is targeting the UK Government, the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales with petitions calling for legislation to guarantee a plant-based meal on every public sector menu, every day. This would mean that vegan meals are available to everyone without having to make a special request.
Veganism is a protected belief under the Equality Act 2010 in England, Scotland and Wales but many hospitals, schools, universities, councils and prisons fail to offer vegan food, with patients and schoolchildren "often going hungry".
The Vegan Society will be gathering signat ures for the petitions at party conferences, all five of which it will have a presence at.
22nd March 2018
Campaign receives support from Hospital Catering Association
Stewart McKenzie, Chair of the Hospital Caterers Association (HCA) said: “We are delighted to support The Vegan Society in their campaign for nutritious vegan meals on public sector catering menus. As an association we aim to promote, develop and improve the standards of catering in hospitals. Our focus is to provide a truly patient centred service, meeting the needs of every individual patient in our care.”
22nd March 2018
The Vegan Society is celebrating NHS Sustainability Day (22 March) by launching a new campaign and registering hospital meals with our Vegan Trademark for the first time.
Catering for Everyone is a campaign that aims to ensure the needs of vegans are met in public sector institutions, and that more vegan options are served on public sector menus.
We are calling for Councils to lead by example by improving the vegan provision in their offices and influencing the institutions in their local authority.
The campaign’s first success sees Anglia Crown, a manufacturer and supplier of prepared foods to UK hospitals, officially register its range of new exciting vegan dishes.
Louise Davies, Head of Campaigns and Policy at The Vegan Society, said: “We’re asking our public services to provide tasty, nutritious and appropriate vegan options not just for vegans, but for everyone, every day.
“As well as supporting the rights of vegans, this would promote the wider benefits of veganism for people, animals and the planet.
“We’re delighted to be launching the campaign on NHS Sustainability Day – any public institution looking to reduce their carbon footprint would do well do serve more vegan food. And we’re especially pleased to see Anglia Crown leading the way in providing nutritious, tasty vegan food to hospitals.”
Anglia Crown supplies meals to 100 UK hospitals, and its new vegan range has the potential to influence the inclusivity, sustainability and nutritional quality of menus across the UK.
The range includes dishes such as a Moroccan vegetable tagine, pasta peperonata and butternut squash curry (all below).
Scott Buckler, Campaign Manager at NHS Sustainability Day, said: “Food plays a huge role in the Sustainable Development agenda within the NHS. It is hugely important we support environmentally-friendly and ethical vegan food and we commend both The Vegan Society and Anglia Crown.”
Veganism has been found to come within the scope of international human rights provisions and vegans in the UK are protected under human rights and equality law.
Please contact your Councillor using our template letter asking them to put pressure on local institutions to improve their vegan offering.
Survey shows discrimination against vegans
A recent survey conducted by Go Vegan Scotland shows vegans experiencing discrimination in a number of ways. The survey went out to almost 500 Scotland-based vegans, who answered questions about provision for, and attitude towards vegans in the public sector.
A number of issues were uncovered in the healthcare system, ranging from a lack of suitable meals for patients, fundamental knowledge gaps in health care providers and the denial of vegan food to eating disorder patients on the grounds that this was considered part of their illness.
Institutions in the education system were also shown to fall short of standards. Aside from issues with catering, vegan students were sometimes expected to use animal ingredients in cooking classes and partake in animal dissections in science lessons. Other issues included school uniforms made from wool, and students being expected to go on trips to farms, zoos and non-vegan factories.
The survey also includes reports of problems vegans have faced in the workplace, in prisons and specific issues experienced as a result of raising vegan children.
Go Vegan Scotland say that the survey “highlighted a lack of understanding of the moral conviction that vegans live by, what it means to be vegan in terms of avoidance of all forms of animal exploitation and killing, and how vegan convictions should be taken into account by our state entities”.