The scale of exclusion in Polish schools

The school does not keep up with the new generation and the climate catastrophe.
24% of students do not eat anything at school.

The young generation is moving away from animal products. Vegetarianism and veganism are increasingly common diets in this age group. School cafeterias and buffets have failed to keep up with this change, the effects of which can be seen in the latest Green REV Institute research, Future Food 4 Climate, Parents for Climate and Democracy Action. Only a little over half of the students have access to the school cafeteria and hardly anyone has heard of vegan meals there.

For several years now, there has been a discussion about changing eating habits in a green and ethical direction. More and more Polish women and Poles are giving up all or part of meat, eggs and dairy products. There are many reasons. Raising awareness of the climate catastrophe, taking care of one’s own health or limiting the suffering of animals. Change is most rapid among the young generation, who want to change the world despite the educational model that imposes schematic thinking.

The latest research by Green REV Institute shows that only 56.1% of people in primary and secondary education have access to the canteen. Of this group, only 6.5% have the opportunity to purchase a vegan meal. Often, however, this meal means excluding non-vegan elements from the dish and settling for chips, salad, or cooked vegetables. For example, the young people had to devise ways to circumvent the system. A large proportion (78.1%) bring food from home and nearly half (40.6%) purchase from stores adjacent to the facility. Most disturbing, however, is the fact that nearly a quarter (24.2%) of people do not eat anything at school.

The survey also asked about the school’s dream vision on nutrition. Some sample answers:

● If there is a buffet at all, there are more options than toast with cheese and chopsticks. I would like there to be at least one dinner option that is truly vegetarian/vegan and not only suitable for vegetarians/vegans, meaning that the protein or protein requirement is supplemented with products, e.g. with soy or tofu
● In my opinion, a study should be carried out on the diet of pupils in school. On the basis of which the meals are prepared, there is a vegetarian, vegan, etc. option so that every student has the opportunity to have a balanced diet. It would also be helpful to give your meals a calorie count.
● Everyone who wants to eat in the cafeteria passes on their diet and the school adapts to the student, not the student to school (including diseases such as obesity, diabetes, Hashimoto’s, etc.). There is no shame in being sick or having a different opinion that makes us ashamed to count calories or not eat certain foods. Thank you so much for the great survey
● Ability to choose a vegetarian or vegan diet so that vegetarian and vegan meals contain some protein, so that vegetarian dishes are not sweet meals most days, and you can buy sandwiches without meat in the school store.

The availability of vegan meals in schools or hospitals is not guaranteed by law, limiting the possibility of equal use of public services such as education or health care. The availability of such meals would have an important educational value for the young generation, demonstrating the need to transform the food system. Livestock is responsible for 17% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, is one of the leading causes of biodiversity loss, kills more than 80 billion animals every year and causes many human diseases, especially cancer and the cardiovascular system . This would be the practical dimension of climate education.

Vegan meals are available in schools in many countries, cities and states around the world. In Berlin, 34 canteens from four universities have changed their menus, with 68% vegan and 28% vegetarian meals. Fish will make up 2% of the options offered and meat from other animals will appear in some meals 4 days a week. New York City has Meatles Mondays and Vegan Fridays programs, which give youth access to vegan meals at all schools in the district. As early as 2017, Portugal centrally guaranteed access to vegan meals in schools, hospitals, prisons and other public buildings.

“We need local governments for climate and animal rights. Climate on the plate, health on the plate and animal and human rights on the plate in public institutions are the basis for changing and introducing the EU Farm 2 Fork at the local level. We talk to aldermen and municipal authorities

and municipalities. These conversations should be followed by specific changes to the menu: climate-responsible, socially and ethically responsible. Time for the climate alarm on the plates.”

  • Anna Spurek, COO Green REV Institute

The research was conducted among a representative sample of 660 people using an anonymous internet survey. It includes people studying in primary and secondary schools, while maintaining the diversity of the city’s size.

Full Study Summary

Green REV Institute

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