A vegan school meal or vegan school lunch or vegan school dinner or vegan hot lunch is a vegan option provided as a school meal. A small number of schools around the world serve vegan food or are vegan schools, serving exclusively vegan food.


Traditionally school meals, particularly those served in the United States and Europe, are made with meat and dairy products. In recent years schools there and in other geographic regions have begun adding vegan and plant-based options.[1][2][3][4]

Culture, politics and government policies determine what food is served at school meals, and schools serving vegan meals are often responding to national policies or demands from local communities. Reasons cited for offering vegan school meals include concerns about nutrition, allergies, cultural diversity and sustainability. Schools that add vegan food options have faced complaints[5] and those that don't have it have faced criticism.[6]

In the United States, the addition of vegan lunches in schools is related to the Meatless Monday campaign.[7]

In 2006, Vegetarian Journal reported a survey of food service directors in the United States by the School Nutrition Association found "5% of elementary, 6% of middle, and 10% of high schools offer vegan options."[8] By 2017, the School Nutrition Association found 14% of school districts across the country offer vegan lunches compared to 11.5% of schools offering vegan lunch in 2016.[9]

Political history

In France, in accordance with the EGalim law, all school catering must offer at least one vegetarian menu per week since November 1, 2019. This should consist of a single menu based on plant proteins.[citation needed] In August 2021, the Climate and Resilience law passed in August 2021 confirmed the obligation of a weekly vegetarian menu.[10] This vegetarian menu can be vegan.

In 2016, the Israel Ministry of Health mandated that all schools serve weekly vegetarian meals, some of which are vegan.[4]

In Berlin, Germany in 2016, an administrative court ruled that schools are not obligated to provide vegan school meals.[11]

In 2017, Brazil adopted the Conscious Eating Brazil policy (Alimentação Consciente Brasil) with an aim of increasing fruits and vegetables and decreasing meat in the country's school lunches. The act led to some school districts adding vegan meals.[5]

In 2019, the Healthy Climate-Friendly School Lunch Act, which would mandate vegan options in all schools, was introduced into the state of California's legislature in the United States.[12]

In the United Kingdom, school meals must include fish, meat, or dairy.[citation needed] In 2020, Paul McCartney signed a letter to education secretary Gavin Williamson, which asked that the government change the requirement and allow schools to serve vegetarian and vegan meals. The campaign to change the UK School Food Standards is led by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and supporters include Greenpeace and the Royal Society for Public Health.[13] In 2022, the Oxfordshire County Council voted to provide vegan meals in schools two days a week and farmers protested.[14]

Examples of vegan lunch Options

Vegan school lunches being served by schools include sloppy Joes in Teofilandia, Brazil,[5] hummus pizza and Kung Pao tofu in Portland, Maine, USA,[9][15] root vegetable soup in Porvoo, Finland,[16] vegan chicken nuggets in Deerfield, Illinois, USA,[17] vegan quesadillas and Sichuan noodles in Kittery, Maine, USA,[15] falafel sandwiches and stuffed vegan peppers at Fort Walton Beach, Florida, USA,[18] and vegan tamale and vegan teriyaki burgers in Los Angeles, California, USA.[19] At Our Lady of Sion School in Worthing, West Sussex, England school dinners include Fillet Fisch burger with tartare sauce & chips, butternut squash & sweet potato Tikka Masala with rice, and tofu tacos with Asian slaw.[20]

In 2022, New York City public schools adopted Vegan Fridays and serve vegan lunches on Fridays. These include chickpea wraps and veggie tacos.[21]

Vegan schools

Vegan schools are schools that only serve vegan food to students.

In 2015, the MUSE School in Calabasas, California, became the first vegan K–12 school in the United States.[22][23][24]

The German International School in Chennai, India adopted veganism since the 2017–2018 academic year, becoming the first vegan K–12 school in India.[25]

In February 2022, the Our Lady of Sion School, an independent day school in Worthing, West Sussex, England, became the first school in the country to have a fully vegan school kitchen. It partners with Plant Based School Kitchens.[20]

Plant-Based Universities campaign

The Plant-Based Universities campaign is a student-run campaign begun in 2021 with the goal of 100% plant-based catering in universities in response to the climate crisis.[26] Its chapters have initiated votes in students' unions. University of Birmingham, University College London, University of Stirling, and Queen Mary universities have voted to initiate 100% plant-based menus.[27] In 2023, more than 650 academics wrote a letter urging universities to support the campaign.[28]

The Student Union at the University of Stirling in Stirling, Scotland, voted in 2022 to become a vegan university as part of the campaign. The university, with about 17,000 students, will become 50% vegan for the 2023-2024 academic year and 100% vegan by 2025.[29]


The concern over climate change is causing more governments to lower emissions, including serving food with the least climate footprint. Friends of the Earth said that vegan school meals are beneficial for the planet, for the health of students and for the finances of the school system.[30] But in many school districts, the meat and dairy lobby retains its power, and in the United States schools are required to serve and promote cow's milk.[30] Those advocating for vegan lunch include Sir Paul McCartney, New York City Mayor Eric Adams,[31] journalist Avery Yale Kamila,[32] environmental advocate Suzy Amis Cameron, the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine,[30] The Vegan Society[33] the Humane Society's Forward Food programme,[32] and the U.S.-based New York Coalition for Healthy School Food.[34]

See also


  1. ^ Tomky, Naomi (2019-02-27). "When Your Kindergarten Goes Vegan". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-02-12.
  2. ^ Brody, Leslie (2016-04-06). "What's the Latest Course in Preschool? Vegan Food". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2020-02-17.
  3. ^ "Vegan school meal options promised after mother's campaign". BBC News. 2019-11-05. Retrieved 2020-02-17.
  4. ^ a b Bauke, Nicole (July 11, 2017). "Veganism takes parenthood by storm in Israel". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2020-02-12.
  5. ^ a b c McCoy, Terrence (November 3, 2019). "Schools in meat-loving Brazil went vegan. The community revolted". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2019-11-04. Retrieved 2020-02-12.
  6. ^ Gibbons, Amy (January 22, 2020). "Go vegan to avoid threat of legal action, schools told". Tes. Retrieved 2020-02-17.
  7. ^ Jacobson, Linda (March 18, 2019). "Success with Meatless Mondays depends on staff training, 'well-prepared' recipes". K-12 Dive. Retrieved 2024-02-27.
  8. ^ Hamlin, Amie (July 1, 2006). "Foodservice Update: Vegetarian and Vegan Foods in Schools". Vegetarian Journal. Retrieved 2020-02-12.
  9. ^ a b Povich, Elaine S. (September 30, 2019). "Vegan School Lunches Expand Despite Opposition From Meat Industry". Stateline. Pew Trusts. Retrieved 2020-02-12.
  10. ^ Filoche, Adrien (13 September 2022). "Faut-il davantage de repas végétariens dans les cantines scolaires de la métropole de Rouen ?" [Do we need more vegetarian meals in school canteens in the Rouen metropolis?]. actu.fr (in French). Archived from the original on 2022-09-13. Retrieved 2023-04-07.
  11. ^ Marshall, Wyatt (2016-05-18). "Berlin Court Says Schools Don't Have to Provide Vegan and Paleo Lunch Options". Vice. Retrieved 2020-02-13.
  12. ^ Staff Report (2019-02-12). "Healthy Climate-Friendly School Lunch Act". LA TECH NEWS. Retrieved 2020-02-12.
  13. ^ Brown, Mark (2020-06-22). "Paul McCartney calls for meat to no longer be mandatory in England's school meals". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-06-23.
  14. ^ "Farmers protest over Oxfordshire County Council's vegan menu plan". BBC News. 2022-02-08. Retrieved 2022-02-08.
  15. ^ a b Kamila, Avery Yale (2019-04-28). "Public schools in southern Maine explore vegan options". Press Herald. Retrieved 2020-07-17.
  16. ^ "Porvoo schools trial vegan lunches once a week". Yle Uutiset. 8 January 2019. Retrieved 2020-07-17.
  17. ^ "Aramark offer healthful vegan school lunch options". The Times Weekly. 2019-09-04. Archived from the original on 2020-02-13.
  18. ^ Crain, Jennifer (2018-10-15). "Florida high school launches vegan meals". Food Management. Archived from the original on 2020-07-17.
  19. ^ Szymanski, Mike. "Vegan lunches could be coming to every LAUSD school next year". LA School Report. Archived from the original on 2017-12-04.
  20. ^ a b Sparkes, Bailey (2022-02-22). "First UK Plant Based School Kitchen". ThisWeekinFM. Retrieved 2022-02-25.
  21. ^ AP Newswire (2022-02-04). "New York City school lunch menu going vegan on Fridays". The Independent. Archived from the original on 2022-08-11. Retrieved 2022-02-08.
  22. ^ Feinsinger, Greg (January 6, 2016). "Doctor's tip: Word getting out about plant-based diets". Glenwood Springs Post Independent. Retrieved January 9, 2016.
  23. ^ Kirkova, Deni (November 12, 2015). "Director James Cameron's wife opened first all-vegan school as he filmed Avatar". Metro. Retrieved January 9, 2016.
  24. ^ "'Titanic' director's wife terminates meat from school lunch menu". TODAY.com. 26 February 2015. Retrieved 2022-09-25.
  25. ^ Menon, Priya (14 August 2017). "Kids dig into mock meat as German school goes vegan". The Times of India. Chennai: The Times Group. Retrieved 23 September 2020.
  26. ^ McKay, Katie (2024-01-11). "A Plant-Based University". The Glasgow Guardian. Retrieved 2024-05-29.
  27. ^ Carrington, Damian (2023-09-04). "Hundreds of academics call for 100% plant-based meals at UK universities". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2024-05-29.
  28. ^ Carrington, Damian (2023-09-04). "Hundreds of academics call for 100% plant-based meals at UK universities". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2024-05-29.
  29. ^ "Stirling University Students' Union votes to go 100% vegan". BBC News. 2022-11-17. Retrieved 2022-12-13.
  30. ^ a b c "Great vegan food is everywhere — except in America's public schools. Healthy-lunch advocates explain why". www.yahoo.com. 7 December 2021. Retrieved 2022-02-08.
  31. ^ WABC (2022-02-03). "Vegan Fridays: NYC school cafeterias launching healthy eating initiative". ABC7 New York. Retrieved 2022-02-08.
  32. ^ a b Kamila, Avery Yale (2022-01-23). "Vegan lunches restart in Portland's elementary schools, making the district a national leader". Lewiston Sun Journal. Retrieved 2022-02-08.
  33. ^ Sharman, Laura; Shaw, Neil (2022-03-10). "Doctors call for schools to ditch bacon, sausages and milk on lunch menus". WalesOnline. Retrieved 2022-04-29.
  34. ^ "The First Vegetarian Elementary School Is Changing More Than Meals". Food Network. Retrieved 2023-04-21.