SCHOOLS in Wales should offer vegan meals every day without pupils having to make special requests, a politician has argued.

In a debate on healthy school meals at the National Assembly for Wales, Labour AM for Mid and West Wales Joyce Watson argued that children have a right to plant-based options.

Mrs Watson said: “Vegans in the UK have the right to suitable plant-based catering under human rights and equality law.

“I'd like to see tasty, nutritious, appropriate vegan meals on daily menus.”

Following a human rights challenge led by the campaign group Go Vegan World, Scottish education authorities this week announced they will provide vegan options.

In 2018, a mother in Manchester won her fight to get free vegan lunches served at her daughter’s school by citing equality laws. Laura Chepner’s request was initially refused because, the school said, her daughter’s dietary requirements were a ‘lifestyle choice’, not the result of religion or allergy.

Mrs Watson, who sits on the Assembly’s climate change, environment and rural affairs committee, said serving more vegan meals could improve children’s health and respond to young people’s concerns about climate change.

She added: “School meals play an important role in our children's health, development and their future choices.

“Research has linked vegan diets with low blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as lower rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer.

“Building familiarity with plant-based food could help offset bad dietary habits…which are formed young, and then they contribute to public health challenges later on.

“Plant-based diets are also sustainable. Individually, we can reduce our food-related greenhouse gas emissions by up to 50 per cent by switching to a vegan diet in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, land and auto use, and soil erosion.

“And last year, research at the University of Oxford concluded that eating a vegan diet could be the single best way to reduce your environmental impact on the earth.

“These are things that we've seen young people on the streets campaigning for, and I think that we ought to offer those same young people in their schools the option to make a choice, which I've mentioned isn't very often there, to carry that into their eating choices in school.

“If you gave a plant-based diet to children in school, you'd actually be recycling peelings, not plastic.”