Friday 28 February 2020

Taylor Shaw & The Reappearing Vegan Options

Three years ago, I wrote an article entitled How I secured vegan free school meals for my daughter for The Metro (this was during my very brief stint as Unofficial Spokesparent for Vegan Families). Then, a year later, I wrote an update on my blog because the vegan school dinners my daughter had been enjoying were suddenly no more. 

My daughter's school is catered for by Taylor Shaw catering company. They seem to do catering for quite a lot of schools. I know this because I've spoken to parents of vegan children at some of the other schools. The company made the decision to stop providing vegan options because, according to them, they didn't need to. 

With Ember due to start reception in September, I'd started to worry about the lack of vegan options available. She's already one of the youngest in her year, and I think a hot dinner helps them get through the day. So, I'd been planning to get in touch with Taylor Shaw again to ask more questions about their policy of not providing vegan options. 

It seems a little outdated, considering the growing popularity of veganism. Many schools are introducing vegan options as a way of reducing their carbon footprint, and this is something supported by pupils who are keen to make environmentally-friendly choices. Many of the vegetarian options would be easy to veganise, so it felt unfair that the catering company were refusing to make small changes that would make their food more accessible. 

Primary schools put a lot of focus on inclusivity, empathy and celebrating differences, so it felt at odds to have a lunchtime ritual that failed to meet these standards. Even on special days (bizarrely, America Day is a thing at my daughter's school, where all the kids eat unhealthy food and celebrate a country governed by a man who likes to 'grab pussy'), they make no effort to offer vegan options.

So, it was more than a little irking in Veganuary (the month formerly known as January) when I saw the following tweet by Taylor Shaw catering:

I mean, if that's not a bare-faced attempt at jumping on the vegan publicity bandwagon, I don't know what is. 'Hey, try some vegan food, no, not at school, lol, we won't provide it.' I got strain from eye-rolling so hard. I tweeted them back to ask whether this signalled the introduction of vegan food to their menu. 

I received an email in response explaining that yes, the company would be introducing a vegan menu during the summer term. Obviously, it isn't the summer term yet, so I don't know whether this will actually happen, but I very much hope that it will. I'm excited to see the meal choices and for my then four-year-old to be able to enjoy a hot dinner with her friends each day. 

I don't know what inspired this change of heart from Taylor Shaw, but I have a sneaking suspicion it might have something to do with the recent discrimination court case. The court ruled that veganism is a belief protected by law and that vegans should not be discriminated against. Whatever the reason for the introduction of vegan options, I'm just happy to see things changing for the better. 

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

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