by David Bean

The Minister for Education and Welsh Language has supported the Countryside Alliance in our robust opposition to attempts by the extreme activist group, Animal Rebellion, to ban meat from school meals in Wales.

In response to a letter from Countryside Alliance Wales, Jeremy Miles AS/MS said:

“I can assure you that completely removing the meat option from the school lunch menu is not something the Welsh Government supports. We [recognise] that the food and drink provided in schools can make a positive contribution towards giving children and young people a healthy balanced diet, and can also encourage them to develop good eating habits. This balanced diet includes a wide and varied range of foods, including sustainably reared red meat.”

Together with the statement that he and his colleagues “look forward to working with you and colleagues within the Countryside Alliance to ensure that the food offered to children at schools is of the best quality and nutritional value possible,” this intervention will offer much-needed reassurance to farmers in Wales and across the UK that the Welsh Government will not bow to pressure from extremists who want to impose their own dietary choices on everyone else.

Mr Miles’s comments directly refute Animal Rebellion’s recent campaign. Its stated aim is to persuade councils to take meat off school menus on “at least” two days a week, claiming that “the science” says eating meat is bad for the climate so the measure is needed to tackle children’s “eco-anxiety”. This overlooks that schools routinely make vegetarian options available to those who choose them, and that locally sourced, sustainably reared meat can have far less severe environmental impacts than exotic fruits and vegetables air-freighted in over countless food miles from across the world.

Rachel Evans, the Director of Countryside Alliance Wales who approached the Minister, said:

“It is reassuring to know that the Welsh Government is against banning meat in schools, as is clearly the aim of extremist groups such as Animal Rebellion. Anti-farming rhetoric and policies should have no place in Welsh schools and we are pleased to see the Education Minister agreeing with us that sustainably reared red meat should feature on school menus as part of a healthy balanced diet. It is for parents, not schools, to decide whether their children consume meat and dairy.

“We welcome the prospect of being able to feed into the Healthy Eating in Schools Regulations review to ensure schools source local Welsh produce, which will ultimately benefit our countryside and its strong farming community while preventing extremism from sneaking in through the back door.”

To read Mr Miles’ letter in full, please click here.

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