A 10-year old girl from Greater Manchester who wanted to introduce Meat Free Monday to her school has gone one step further and encouraged her education authority to roll out MFM across the whole borough.
Lyla Springate and her friends Sreeja Bhowmick and Eva Sarah Patten – who call themselves the Planet Savers – started a petition to garner support for meat free food to be served at their primary school, The Firs, in Sale, Cheshire, on Mondays. After getting an overwhelmingly positive response, they sent a letter to Trafford education authority, suggesting it “roll out Meat Free Mondays in schools across Trafford”. It jumped at the chance to give pupils in its area a healthier and more environmentally-friendly start to the week. Now Lyla says: “I feel like I changed the world!”
The young meat free eater came up with the idea of pushing for a Meat Free Monday at her school after being asked to do a project on a famous person. She chose Linda McCartney, the late wife of MFM founder Paul McCartney, and her research led her to the campaign set up by Paul and his daughters, Mary and Stella. “I thought it was a good idea and I decided to bring it to my school,” Lyla says.
While The Firs’ head teacher, Mrs Hitchcock, was supportive, she explained that the council had the final say on changing school meals. Undeterred, the girls set up the petition, which received 115 signatures, and also bravely made a presentation in assembly, standing up in front of friends and teachers to explain the issues around meat eating, the importance of reducing our consumption and how each of those present could make a difference. Using facts gleaned from the MFM website, the Planet Savers explained in their letter to the authorities about greenhouse gases, waster wastage and biodiversity and species loss, and stressed that: “reducing your meat intake is one of the single most significant things you can do to help the environment.”
The letter was so powerful that representatives of the council paid a visit to Lyla’s school and gave MFM the thumbs-up, as well as approving a much wider rollout. Lyla sent Paul an email before Christmas, saying: “Thanks to you, in September 2018 ALL the schools in Trafford in Greater Manchester where I live will be doing meat free Mondays! This makes me feel like I’ve accomplished a big thing in life. Thank you so much!”
Spurred on by the victory – and by a congratulatory note from Paul himself – the Planet Savers and their friends Mylan, Jessica and Robyn have been busy since then. Not only have they organised a competition to create the best Meat Free Monday recipe, but also set up a MFM cookery club. The plan is to give the delicious food they create to fellow pupils, and to let Trafford know the recipes that go down best!
The first MFM was introduced at The Firs on 8 January and as many as 72 others schools in the education authority area will get to tuck in from September. Mike Ault, Trafford’s catering deputy services manager, says the council was happy to support MFM because “we support all incentives which improve sustainability and reduce energy use”. They will join the approximately 1,300 schools around the UK that have already joined MFM, and 3,000 or so enjoying one meat free day a week as members of the Soil Association’s Food for Life initiative. It all adds up to thousands more kids starting the week with a more delicious choice of food, and in Trafford, that’s all down to Lyla.