As part of an annual initiative, this year dedicated to all things vegan, the “Thinking outside the box” project saw children enjoying an informative week of vegan-related classes and food. Sixty children took part, learning about the health and nutritional power of plant-based eating, as well as the important role our food choices play in protecting the environment.
Proposed by one of the teachers, Jörg Holler, the project was supported by ProVeg Deutschland (formerly VEBU, German’s Vegetarian Association) and the health insurance company BKK ProVita, under the aegis of their Pflanzenpower – Plant Power – campaign, part of an effort to help children understand the benefits of meat free eating.
On the first day, chef Lukas Pritsch came to the school and made bread and vegan spreads for the children to enjoy. The 28-year-old is involved with KimbaMobil, run by the Berlin branch of Germany’s food-redistribution charity Tafel: a double-decker bus turned travelling kitchen, which tours around the country teaching children about healthy eating. They were also given a talk by Stina Spiegelberg, a vegan TV chef, cookbook author and Veganpassion blogger who co-founded the Pflanzenpower campaign. A nutrition consultant from BKK ProVita also explained the key to a balanced vegan diet.
The lessons weren’t all classroom-based, though: the pupils went on a visit to various supermarkets, to discover how many animal products are in our food, and how easy – not to mention cheaper and greener – it is to replace them with vegan alternatives. As well as going out of school, they went out of body, gaining some virtual reality insight into what the meat industry means for those on its receiving end: the animals themselves. Staff from the Albert Schweizer Foundation brought in virtual reality glasses and screened iAnimal, a film by the animal rights organisation Animal Equality, which gives a 360-degree pig’s eye view of a pig farm and abattoir.
The week-long project was capped off with a party for the pupils, their parents and teachers, with plenty of vegan snacks on offer. The children all agreed they were now more aware of the issues around animal welfare and healthy eating. One commented: “I’ve been eating vegan since Monday and find it quite tasty and easy. I will probably stay with it.”