Extinction Rebellion eco-warrior claims giving schoolkids too much dairy is 'RACIST'

AN Extinction Rebellion eco-warrior has claimed giving schoolkids too much dairy is "racist".

Alison Plaumer thinks feeding children milk and cheese discriminates against black and ethnic minority groups who are more likely to be lactose intolerant.

The environmental campaigner, from XR's Brighton branch, is calling more for plant-based options in schools.

She has launched a petition on the Brighton and Hove City Council website for two plant-based days at state-run schools as soon as possible.

She also wants to see all council-run events to be plant-based once the pandemic is over.

According to SussexLive, Ms Plaumer told the council last month: "Arguably, there is a racist element to serving dairy too much because 65 per cent of the world’s population are lactose intolerant, many from the BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) community.

"Loads of parents around here give lots of support to this. What do children want? They want action. They want it now."

And in the petition, so far signed by 252 people, the campaigner says: "Food production alone is set to push Earth past 1.5°C of warming according to an Oxford University meta analysis in 2018."

She goes onto quote Professor Michael Clark, saying: "If we don’t change what we do with food, we would miss the 1.5°C target within 30 to 45 years.

"The most effective one seems to be transitioning to a plant-based diet.

"Animal agriculture and fishing industries are leading causes of deforestation, ocean dead zones, water pollution, biodiversity loss and species extinction.

"Not only that, intensive animal farming poses a significant threat for the development of new pandemics and for furthered antibacterial resistance to emerge."

Ms Plaumer, a social sciences lecturer and former Green Party employee, said organisations such as ProVeg – an international food awareness organisation – could help councils make the shift.

She also highlighted other areas of the country that had transitioned to plant-based meals.

Ms Plaumer pointed to Enfield, which has stopped serving meat at council events, Lewisham, which has voted to provide exclusively plant-based options, and Leeds, which has introduced a meat-free day and another plant-based day every week across 182 schools.

Green councillor Elaine Hills, who has been vegan for 28 years, responded by saying: "Plant-based food certainly has a much lower carbon footprint than a conventional diet.

"I agree it is something we should focus on to meet our carbon neutrality goals.

"The Green group has for a long-time campaigned for healthier and more environmentally friendly options being made available to support the health of pupils and the planet."

She added that schools across Brighton and Hove currently have two meat-free days every three weeks, and the council is working with supplier Caterlink to increase the number of plant-based dishes on the menu.

Children registered as vegan can access a plant-based option every day at school, while meat-free options are always available.

Councillor Hills said: "Ensuring meals produced are healthy, popular and are consumed by children will have a positive effect on food waste production.

"Part of this process is education. We recently increased the amount spend on environmental education.

"As part of this, we would like to make sure that children in all our schools are learning about the carbon footprint of what they eat to help inform their decision making about the food choices they make."

The petition on the council website closes on June 13, before being put to the Children, Young People and Skills Committee the following day.

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