It’s usually teachers educating children about the world, but pupils are increasingly taking the lead in showing their schools how we can all help save the planet: by joining Meat Free Monday.
Lordship Farm Primary School in Letchworth, Hertfordshire, joined the campaign after pupils expressed a wish to do their bit to protect the environment – and ended up inspiring their catering company to do the same. And pupils at Sandfield Close Primary in Leicester have written a letter to the school’s governors and catering company asking them to join too. Both are following in the footsteps of 10-year-old Lyra Springate, who in 2018 persuaded her Greater Manchester school to go meat free at the start of the week.
A child-led Eco Committee was instrumental in introducing MFM to Lordship Farm. One of its young members, Daniel, who is in Year 6, said he and other pupils knew that individual changes can make a huge difference. “We recognised eating less meat was also one of the few causes of climate change where our personal choice could have a big impact,” he added. Another, Grace, who is in Year 5, said: “The Eco Committee was determined to take action against climate change and protect the planet.”
School meals provider Hertfordshire Catering now delivers only vegetarian ingredients for Monday’s meals – and its chief executive, Ian Hamilton, confirmed the company had been inspired to change its menu next year to include more vegan options and less meat, as well as support other schools that choose to join MFM. Lordship Farm’s head cook, Barbara Stallman, said it was “a pleasure” to prepare healthy, tasty and environmentally friendly food for the children.
Teacher Richard Woodham, the school’s Eco Leader, said: “Reducing meat consumption is the biggest single thing we can do in the fight against climate change. To think other schools will be soon adopting a Meat Free Monday menu because of the success of the initiative in our school is such a positive step and makes me very proud of the children.” The school’s head teacher, Julie Petitt, said MFM was a perfect fit for schoolchildren and that she was “exceptionally proud” of her pupils.
In Leicester, Class 6SO asked the powers-that-be at Sandfield Close to drop meat from the menu on a Monday for the sake of people’s health and that of the planet, and to encourage parents to make MFM-friendly packed lunches too. The children explained they had been inspired by learning about climate change, and that the meat and livestock industry played an outsized role in the creation of greenhouse gases.
The MFM move cements the reputation of Lordship Farm as something of a green pioneer. Last year it was accredited a “Plastic-Free School” by the environmental charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) after the Eco Committee cut single-use plastics, lobbied their MP to support a ban on plastic bags and challenged polluting industries to green up their act.