More children are choosing to be vegetarian, according to Juliet Gelatley of the Vegetarian and Vegan Foundation. “When I first started giving talks in schools 18 years ago there might be two or three vegetarians in a class. Now there are often ten. Children are questioning much more these days and they are ready to listen.”
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As well as talks in schools the Vegetarian and Vegan Foundation has produced a video for GCSE students, Food For Life and is producing a schools pack to accompany their project, Safeguarding Children’s Health.
Launched in 2002, to provide positive information about nutrition, the Foundation is hoping to help children establish good eating habits.
“The seeds for diet are laid so early,” said Juliet. “A diet free from animal products is the most healthy way forward.”
Children who eat a healthy balanced diet of fresh vegetables, fruit and non-animal protein, are likely to avoid the addiction of junk food. Research also shows that they are less likely to contract diseases in adult life. Obesity, heart disease and many others can be linked to diets containing meat and dairy products. “There is a lot of misinformation about diet,” explained Juliet. “For example, fish are widely promoted as the prime source of omega 3 oils, when, in fact, research has shown that they only provide 30 per cent compared to plant sources that provide 70 per cent.”
The Foundation is drawing together research to counteract misconceptions and educate people. They have a telephone helpline staffed by qualified nutritionists and produce a guide to nutrition for health professionals.
An animal free diet is not only better for health, but for the environment too, as Juliet explained. “In the EU we don’t have enough land and in the US they don’t have enough water for animal farming. According to research at Reading University, the amount of land needed to feed two and a half billion on an animal diet will feed ten billion on a vegan diet.
FURTHER INFORMATION : The Vegetarian & Vegan Foundation, 8 York Court, Bristol, BS2 8QH. Tel: 0117 944 1000
WEB SITE : http://www.vegetarian.org.uk EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org