Mandate that all public-sector catering menus (schools, hospitals, prisons, universities and workplaces) include at least one fully plant-based (vegan) option that is available to everyone every day to improve access to healthier and lower-impact foods. Such a law has been introduced in Portgual in 2017. Fund training in plant-based cooking to address skills gaps and provide financial support for equipping kitchen facilities for additional plant-based food preparation where needed. Department of Health and Social Care, indicates that typical UK diets contain too much livestock products and recommends reducing intake of meat by 75-85%. It's great that Scottish Government has agreed to add plant-based milk to the government-funded nursery and early learning scheme. However, in the UK, thirty per cent of all meals are provided through the education, healthcare and other government funded institutions (WRAP, 2015) and while supermarkets and restaurants are responding to growing demand, schools, hospitals, prisons and other public-sector catering outlets do not routinely offer purely plant-based menu options. Vegan options, if available, are prepared if specially requested and are not visible or available to other diners. Schools in the UK serve between 6-7 million school lunches per day. Most schools will provide a vegan meal on request but this requires submitting a ‘Special Diet Request Form’ to the catering company and the child is then restricted to only vegan options and these vegan options are not available to other pupils who might want to try them, making a ‘flexitarian’ or ‘reducetarian’ approach to animal or high climate -impact foods impossible. There is good potential to shifts in diet without restricting people's choice but by simply broadening public sector menus to make plant-based options available. This would avoid forcing people into unnecessarily divisive boxes/identities of normal and 'vegan' and would also go a long way to normalising these food choices and weakening prejudice against those with food preferences. Being able to easily try something new, and see others doing it, are both associated with more rapid behaviour change. Food waste is a concern but supply could to a degree follow demand and trials (e.g. Cambridge Uni catering) have found increasing plant-based menu options grows demand.
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