A former primary school teacher herself, Laura is in the process of writing a guidebook for teacher called Primary Veducation. The book will help guide teachers to become more vegan inclusive in the classroom. Laura’s goal is to have vegan inclusion throughout the education system to benefit every vegan child who may feel left out or misunderstood at school.
Laura shares her story with us on how it all got started.
Laura’s Story In Her Own Words…
Upon making the decision to formally educate your child, their first day at school can be a very exciting time for the whole family. It’s a new and important stage in your child’s life and waving goodbye as they toddle in, unaided by you, is a moment usually filled with pride and possibly a tear or two.
I say, ‘usually’ as the experience that I had differed considerably from the norm.
In the UK, children in Early Years education are entitled to a daily, free school meal and with the school having been provided with the information that my daughter was vegan before she started I assumed, naively, that she would be catered for.
How wrong I was! After conferring with the kitchen staff that morning, I was told that my daughter was not going to be catered for.
And that the reasoning for this was that our veganism was a ‘lifestyle choice.’
I was further told that if she had had an allergy or religious request, these would have been taken into consideration without question; which felt like a further kick in the teeth to me.
My baby, a compassionate girl with ethics beyond her years, was being punished for possessing these qualities.
I cried the entire way around the supermarket buying her a lunch box and food to fill it with.
Vegan inclusion in our mainstream schools is a real issue, I felt so excluded and alienated for the first time since becoming vegan and this was provided by an institution that claimed to be fully inclusive; the irony was not lost on me.
Having worked in education for most of my adult life I knew that this was a fight worth taking to the powers that be.
I did and I won.
My daughter now enjoys vegan meals at lunchtimes, and the borough where we live is the first in the UK to provide a fully vegan menu as an automatic option if requested. No other vegan parent where we live will have to endure the upset that I did, a true vegan victory!
The best part is now being able to help other parents, up and down the country, who have been in a similar situation but don’t know what to do. We have rights and as a community we must find the confidence to exercise them. We can and we must urge to make more schools vegan inclusive.
Off the back of the media interest surrounding our victory, I attended Parliament to discuss plant-based options on all public sector menus and assisted Pro-Veg in their “School Plates” campaign.
With 7% of the British population identifying as vegan and no sign of stopping, it is vital that schools and teachers understand what veganism is and start to make changes not only to their menus, but also to their delivery of the curriculum too.
The more I looked, the more obvious it became that there was nothing presently in place where veganism and education met, neither by policy nor lesson planning, so
I decided to become the UK’s first Vegan School Consultant, ‘Primary Veducation.’
I meet with teachers and in a gentle and informative way, I show them the world through the vegan child’s eyes, as well as assisting with curriculum planning tweaks and introducing vegan- friendly content and language choices.
The most rewarding part of my new profession is knowing that the vegan children whose teachers I work with will be valued and that their veganism will be celebrated in class.
Our goal should be to make more schools vegan inclusive.
As the nationwide, and probably worldwide, concept of a vegan inclusive education currently stands, we really are in the preliminary stage. As veganism continues to grow so shall this concept and once it is fully integrated into our schools, done so by determined parents requesting it, its ripples will be everlasting, after all… the children are our vegan future!