In a bid to protect the environment, Tops Day Nurseries now provides free vegan meals and snacks during meetings and training.
The nursery school group—made up of 30 individual nurseries—provides childcare for more than 3,500 children. Tops Day Nurseries, which is based in southwest England, is also providing plant milk in place of traditional dairy for tea and coffee.
Amy Alderson, the operations director of Tops Day Nurseries, told Nursery World: “A vegan diet is not compulsory for staff, although it is encouraged. Our colleagues are able to opt out of these meals or snacks and provide their own if they prefer.”
The initiative was launched in 2019 as part of the nursery group’s various sustainability efforts. Tops Day Nurseries has banned glitter, carried out a campaign for reusable nappies, and heavily reduced its use of plastic. In addition to being vegan, all staff snacks are plastic-free.
“We can cater for a wide range of varied diets and currently cater for many vegan children,” added Alderson. For the children who attend the nursery, there is at least one fully vegetarian day per week, and the nursery’s menus contain no added sugar. Tops Day Nurseries also works with the environmental charity GECCO to reduce, re-use, and recycle.
“As an environmentally-conscious business, Tops Day Nurseries are always looking for ways to care for the planet,” says the group. “All nurseries are rigorously reviewed to ensure the carbon footprint is minimised.”
Tops Day’s nurseries are not the only schools embracing vegan meals and plant-based alternatives. In Leeds, 180 primary schools will serve vegan and vegetarian food twice a week to help the environment. When asked whether they would mind one vegetarian day and one “non-meat” day, 95 percent of students said they would not object to the change.
Around 69 percent of London parents say they want processed meats completely banned from primary schools. In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) classed processed meat as a Group 1 carcinogen. Placing it in the same category as tobacco smoking and asbestos.
The Swan School in Oxford exclusively serves meat-free meals. The school said that adopting a fully vegetarian canteen has helped improve both its sustainability and the quality of its meals. The Swan School also said that a meat-free menu encouraged inclusivity.