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Vegan alternatives “should be offered as part of free milk scheme"

By Rachel Lawler

plant milk nurseries

The Vegan Society has called for vegan milk alternatives to be offered alongside cow’s milk in early years settings.

Currently, children aged under five are entitled to receive 189ml of cow’s milk each day they are at a registered childcare provider for two or more hours. The government’s Nursery Milk Scheme pays for the milk.

Fortified plant milks

The Vegan Society has called for the Department of Health and Social Care to add fortified plant-based alternatives to cow’s milk to the scheme to cater for the growing number of vegan children in the UK.

Jeanette Rowley, legal advisor at the Vegan Society, said: “The law regulating the provision of milk for young children is in urgent need of reform to recognise current scientific evidence on nutrition and a growing consumer trend away from dairy milks.”

The Vegan Society has also suggested that the current rules could be discriminatory. Rowley added: “Public authorities are under a general duty under the Equality Act 2010 to avoid discrimination. By limiting the Nursery Milk Scheme to only cow’s milk, the Department of Health is failing in that duty.”

Parent complaints

The charity says that “dozens of parents” have been in touch with them to complain about the lack of alternative milks offered in settings, which affects vegan children as well as those with dairy allergies. These parents must pay for their milk alternatives themselves.

Mark Banahan, campaigns manager at the Vegan Society, said: “Vegan children are unfairly treated as they do not benefit from the current school health initiatives, which are designed to increase calcium intake for growing children.

“They often miss out or have to rely on parents to provide their own plant milk, something that is not always possible for low-income families and causes a great deal of inconvenience to families who should be entitled to free milk alternatives.”

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