Vegetarianism in schools is ‘entirely appropriate’ – Scoop.co.nz

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NZ Vegetarian Society says vegetarianism in schools
is ‘entirely appropriate’

The NZ Vegetarian
Society has responded to claims that a new climate change
resource which encourages students to eat less meat and
dairy should be removed from schools.

The resource has
been produced by the Ministry of Education, and is called
‘Climate Change: Prepare Today, Live Well Tomorrow’. It
has been designed to help children understand how to live
with climate change, and it recommends that students who
want to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions should ‘eat
less meat and dairy products’.

The suggestion that
students eat fewer animal products has upset some meat and
dairy lobbyists, who have been quick to criticise it.
However, the NZ Vegetarian Society says that it is right
that our schools should be educating students about dietary
choices.

Mr McKibbin, spokesperson for the NZ Vegetarian
Society, says that just as schools teach students about the
importance of healthy eating and physical exercise, it is
right that they should educate students about the impact our
choices have on the environment.

‘Just as children are
taught about eating well in Health and the benefits of
physical activity in PE, it is entirely appropriate that
they learn about the impact our choices can have on the
environment. The fact is, animal agriculture – and dairy
farming especially – is extremely damaging to the
environment. It produces a huge amount of greenhouse gas
emissions, and it is polluting our land and rivers. It is
right that these issues, and positive actions like
vegetarianism, are presented in schools.’

Mr McKibbin
says that the claim that meat and dairy consumption is
harmful to the environment is based in fact:

‘We know
that animal agriculture contributes to our country’s
greenhouse gas emissions. According to the government, here
in New Zealand animal agriculture accounts for almost 50% of
our greenhouse gas emissions. This isn’t a conspiracy – it
says this very clearly on the Ministry for Primary
Industry’s website. MPI isn’t an anti-farming
organisation; in fact, it’s the government department
that’s most supportive of our farmers. Even they
admit that there’s a serious problem.’

Mr McKibbin
says there is a danger in allowing industry bodies to
dictate what our students do and do not learn:

‘It would
be like if the tobacco industry challenged the advice that,
because smoking causes lung cancer, people shouldn’t smoke
cigarettes. Whereas, actually, saying to students, ‘if you
want to reduce your chances of getting lung cancer, don’t
take up smoking’ is a responsible message. It’s a
similar thing with animal products. If you don’t want to
have as big a negative impact on the environment, eat less
meat and dairy. Like the tobacco industry, the animal
agriculture industry wants to make money for its
stakeholders. We think education should instead be based on
facts.’

The NZ Vegetarian Society promotes
vegetarianism. Each year, it runs its annual Think Kind
Student Competition, which encourages students to use their
unique talents to do something to help animals. To learn
more about vegetarianism, visit www.vegetarian.org.nz

ends

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