With the ever-growing number of cruelty-free cuisines available at chain restaurants, grabbing a tasty vegan meal has never been easier. Why should your school canteen be any different? Offering vegan options in schools benefits more than just the vegan student body – it also encourages all students to eat healthier, lessens the harmful effects of the food industry on the environment and, of course, saves the lives of countless animals.
We understand that persuading your school to carry more vegan options can seem like a pretty daunting task, so we’ve broken down the process into five easy steps:
1. Write to your school’s dining hall supervisor.
Writing your school’s dining hall supervisor is a very important first step in the process of veganising your school canteen. It will give you the opportunity to familiarise him or her with your needs and concerns as a vegan. And because the letter gives you the chance to share all your points, you will feel less pressure if you meet with him or her later on. If you meet, he or she will probably only need you to elaborate on the points you’ve already made.
Not sure what you should include in your letter? Use this letter as a starting point or a template and customise it to fit your needs. The letter and possibly a meeting may be all that you need to persuade the manager of your canteen to start carrying vegan options. If this is the case, jump to step five. If not, go to step two.
2. Create a “vegan-friendly canteen” petition.
After explaining the benefits of offering vegan-friendly options to your school official, it may be necessary for you to demonstrate the demand for these options, which can easily be done with a petition. Feel free to use this template, or create your own. Recruit some friends if possible, make some copies of the petition and spend some time between lectures, during lunch and after school collecting signatures. Remember to remind people that they aren’t committing to eating only vegan foods all the time (although it would be fab if they did). They’re just supporting healthy, humane choices.
After you’ve collected a bunch of signatures (including e-mail addresses so that you can keep signers up to date about the success of the campaign), show them to your school’s officials and explain that this was done with the intent of demonstrating how important this issue is to students.
3. Create a sample vegan-friendly menu.
For some people, even culinary experts, cooking vegan meals might seem difficult, but for the most part, it isn’t! The purpose of creating a sample menu is to show your school officials how easy and time efficient it can be to cook tasty vegan meals. Here are a few simple vegan recipes from our friends at peta2, PETA US’ youth division, to get you started:
4. Schedule a meeting with your school’s dining hall supervisor.
At this point in the process, you will have collected enough information to illustrate not only the desire for but also the simplicity of adding vegan options to the school’s menu. If your school’s dining hall supervisor has yet to give you a definite answer as to whether or not he or she plans on offering vegan-friendly options in the school canteen, request a meeting with him or her. He or she may agree to add vegan meals to the menu straight away, but because of meal planning and inventory purchases, it may be necessary for him or her to wait a few weeks before beginning to offer vegan meals, or in a worst-case scenario, he or she may say no. (This is actually a very rare occurrence.) If he or she does say no, ask why. Try to figure out what the barriers are that would prevent this change from occurring, and try to help the supervisor figure out if anything can be done to overcome the obstacles. For additional advice, please contact us at Info@peta.org.uk.
5. After your victory, promote the new vegan options.
Congratulations! Now that you’ve persuaded your canteen to start carrying more vegan options, help it out by spreading the word about the new offerings:
- Ask for vegan food to be labelled “vegan”. Such labels will give canteen visitors insight into the variety of the tasty vegan foods that are available.
- Create posters promoting the new vegan options. Be sure to get permission to hang them around your school first, if necessary.
- Ask your school paper to write a story about your canteen’s new vegan additions. If it doesn’t have the time, offer to write the story yourself.
- Ask your food-service director to host a “Vegan Food Day”, during which the canteen would serve exclusively vegan food.
- Talk it up! Encourage all your friends and any faculty members you know to try the new vegan options.