Let’s include everyone:
Bring plant-based milk
to EU schools

Let’s include everyone:
Bring plant-based milk
to EU schools

Three urgent reasons why I urge the Commission to add calcium-fortified plant-based milks as eligible products to the European school fruit, vegetables and milk scheme.

If Europe is serious about offering students a healthy and sustainable diet, it should offer calcium-fortified plant-based milk drinks in the EU School Scheme. I believe these milk drinks should be added to the School Scheme for the following reasons:

1. Protect our planet

Plant-based drinks and the environment
Our young people’s future is directly threatened by the climate crisis. So some students opt for plant-based drinks to reduce their environmental impact. There’s an urgent environmental need for this shift towards plant-based milks since the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations has stated that the livestock sector, especially cows for dairy and beef, is a significant contributor to climate change.1Gerber, P., H. Steinfeld, B. Henderson, et al. (2013): Tackling climate change through livestock: a global assessment of emissions and mitigation opportunities. FAO, Rome

In comparison to the different varieties of plant milk, cow’s milk has the biggest environmental impact in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and land and water use. For example, a litre of cow’s milk requires more than 22 times more water and roughly 12 times more land, and emits three times more greenhouse gas emissions than a litre of soya milk. Other types of plant milk such as oat and rice milk are similarly sustainable.2ProVeg e.V. (2019): Plant Milk Report. Berlin. Available at: https://proveg.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/PV_Plant_Milk_Report_281019-1.pdf [21/07/21]

2. Go cruelty free

Animal welfare considerations
Animal welfare is an increasing concern in Europe,3The Rise of Vegan and Vegetarian Food | Market Research Report | Euromonitor including among its young people. For this reason, some students opt for plant-based milk because it’s cruelty-free. On many dairy farms, cows live in cramped stalls, unable to walk, turn around, groom, look to the side, or interact with other herd members in a natural way. There is a growing awareness among children of the animal-welfare implications of drinking milk. Having access to plant-based alternatives allows students to drink milk that does not negatively affect the welfare of animals.

3. Promote choice and inclusivity

Lactose intolerance
Some students opt for plant-based milks because their bodies have difficulty breaking down lactose, a type of sugar found in cow’s milk. Globally, about 68% of people are lactose intolerant.4Storhaug, C. L., S. K. Fosse & L. T. Fadnes (2017): Country, regional, and global estimates for lactose malabsorption in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology 2(10), 738–746. doi:10.1016/S2468-1253(17)30154-1 So it’s really important that children have the choice to drink plant-based milk at lunchtime.5Whilst lactose-free cow’s milk is available in schools, it is still important to give students the choice between lactose-free cow’s milk and plant-based milk at lunchtime It is also important to note that most Asian, African and Indigenous people are lactose intolerant6US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health (2015): Lactose Intolerance in Adults: Biological Mechanism and Dietary Management. available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4586575/ [18.06.2019] 7https://www.thelancet.com/journals/langas/article/PIIS2468-1253(17)30154-1/fulltext so adding plant-based milk to the school scheme contributes to inclusivity. There’s also Cow’s Milk Allergy (CMA), which can cause mild as well as life-threatening conditions.8Milk allergy – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic Plant-based milk offers an alternative for those children who suffer from CMA.

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“Dear European Commission, please add calcium-fortified plant-based milk to the EU School Scheme to promote inclusivity in our schools, protect the planet, and improve animal welfare”

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