Since 2014, the European Vegetarian Union has been lobbying for the inclusion of plant milks in the EU’s school milk scheme. The need for non-dairy alternatives for school children is clear — more and more Europeans are vegan or vegetarian and the Farm to Fork strategy stresses that diets will need to become more plant-based if Europe is to do its part in mitigating climate change and halting biodiversity loss.
Additionally, we believe that such programs, which also incorporate educational goals, should include education about the impact of food and agriculture on the environment and climate as well as the positive aspects of plant-based eating. It would then be fitting to offer students milk alternatives such as locally produced oat or soy milk that generally have smaller environmental impacts.
With these positions in mind, we were delighted to hear news that the Federal Council in Germany has called on the federal government to advocate towards the EU for the inclusion of plant milks in the school milk scheme. The Council cited health and environmental concerns in their reasoning and advocates for regionally produced plant milks to be made available for school children.
For Germany to go ahead and implement the wish of the Council, there are some regulatory hurdles. Currently, the European Commission is reviewing the EU school fruit, vegetable and milk scheme with possible implementation of a scheme in line with the Farm to Fork strategy by the end of 2023. Among the expected revisions to the scheme the inclusion of environmentally friendly products, including plant-based drinks. This revision would, therefore, open the door to similar initiatives throughout the EU member states.
We will continue to advocate that Europe aligns the school fruit, vegetables and milk scheme with the objectives of the European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork strategy. We would be delighted to have the heft of the German government on our side. You can read more about our position here.