In southern India the German International School Chennai (GISC) has declared itself a completely vegan school. First opened in 2009 the school was recently awarded the ‘Compassionate School’ by PETA India for incorporating compassion, empathy and healthy eating habits into the curriculum.
The German International school will be serving students a plant based breakfast, lunch and dinner. They make their own mock meat, produce vegan cheese from cashews, and bake their own bread. They have designed meals to ensure that all nutritional requirements are met, by substituting animal products with protein-rich food such as quinoa, lentils, seitan, beans and hemp seeds. The school says,
“Our meal plan in GISC is creating a great impact by helping children learn ethical and sustainable eating habits. Our Chef is improving children’s fruit and vegetable consumption by introducing their sensory nerves to varied delicacies.”
The menu ranges from pesto pasta bake, cucumber avocado toast, to ratatouille, flavoured rice with dahl curry, pumpkin spice muffins and fruit smoothies.
After homing and helping injured and abandoned animals at the school they felt it was not ethically right to be serving meat to the children. As Thomas A. Pallushek, advisor for International Schools, Asia Pacific, said“We wanted to reduce the human impact on the environment and eating less meat is the simplest way,”, adding that turning vegan is also healthier.
The school started by reducing the amount of meat and dairy provided whilst raising awareness amongst students of the benefits or a plan based diet through vegan documentaries and ethics classes. They also gained support from parents cooking a vegan buffet for them and heralding the health benefits for their children.
Neha Banerjee, mother of 9 year old Tishta, a student at the school said she is happy about the change:
“We are a nonvegetarian family. At home, I can’t get her to eat vegetables. But in school, she is eating a variety of vegetables and also other grains such as ragi and barley, and getting wholesome nutrition.”
The school commented that,
“As a school, we feel that it’s imperative that our students start learning at the beginning of the age of the importance of healthy food choices and the benefits they reap. These values will be the life and we are hoping that this decision will affect parents and other schools to rethink and make more environmentally conscious and healthy decisions!”
Let’s hope they serve as an inspiration for schools across the globe.