Following a recent vote by members of the European Parliament against the inclusion of plant-based drinks in schools, ProVeg International says MEPs have dealt a ‘significant blow’ to children who cannot, or do not wish to, consume dairy milk.

ProVeg International states that the majority of MEPs ‘failed to include plant-based drink within in their own initiative report on the EU School Scheme’.

The Scheme benefits approximately 20 million children throughout Continental Europe and has ‘huge potential to become the EU public procurement tool for the inclusion of sustainable and environmentally friendly products for children across Europe’. Integrating fortified, unsweetened plant-based milks into the Scheme would have, the organization argues, boosted EU efforts towards a more sustainable diet, one that sits in alignment with the Food Systems Framework initiative.

Including fortified plant-based milk … is essential in terms of inclusion, availability, sustainability and affordability

“We are very disappointed by the outcome of this vote,” comments Lucia Hortelano, EU policy manager, ProVeg International. “But we are hopeful that the European Commission will still move ahead and include plant-based drinks in the Scheme as part of their review, which is out at the end of the year.

“Many children in the EU cannot or do not want to drink cow’s milk for medical, ethical, taste or environmental reasons. Including fortified plant-based milk alternatives is essential in terms of inclusion, availability, sustainability and affordability.”

Working with an alliance of NGOs and businesses ProVeg has co-signed a joint position letter which ‘supports widening the scope of eligible products in the EU School Scheme to recognize the needs of all school children’ by catering for diverse dietary or ethical requirements.