AUSTRALIA, October 19, 2020 (Hindu Council Australia): A growing number of Australian children are not eating meat or animal products. Many now follow a vegan or vegetarian diet for religious reasons, environmental concerns, or distress over animal cruelty. This shift reflects recent research by Roy Morgan that shows 2.5 million Australians are following an all (or almost all) vegetarian diet, up from 1.7 million in 2012. But with a growing number of families deciding not to consume meat or animal products, why are we still hearing reports that vegetarian and vegan children aren’t feeling supported in schools?

10-year-old Sam says that he and his brother initially faced difficulty explaining to their classmates why they don’t eat animal products because of what was being taught in the school curriculum (i.e., that meat was good for you). His mother says this isn’t uncommon, especially when vegan and vegetarian diets aren’t included in a healthy eating curriculum. A more inclusive school curriculum is key to providing much needed support. Teaching students to respect the dietary choices of others helps to normalize animal-free diets and create a welcoming environment for all children. While updating the school curriculum may be a long transition, with the increasing number of Australians choosing a vegetarian or vegan diet not looking to slow down, it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing changes.

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