Welcome to the Teach Vegan Classroom FAQ page!
Here, we’ve compiled answers to the most common queries about accommodating vegan students’ dietary needs in school and creating a supportive environment for them.
If you can’t find the answer to your question in our FAQ section, please don’t hesitate to contact us at email@example.com. We are dedicated to helping you provide a safe and inclusive learning experience for all students. Your inquiries are important to us and we will make every effort to respond promptly to your concerns.
Sadly, discrimination and bullying can be directed towards vegan children at school. It is an extremely serious problem that teachers must work hard to address. Follow your school’s safeguarding procedure in the same way that you would address discrimination based on sexual orientation, religion or any other factor that can lead to bullying.
Make it clear to the pupils that bullying someone due to their dietary choices will have the same consequences as bullying for any other reason. It is a protected belief with the same protections in place for those of different ethnicities, sexual orientations, religions, genders and for those with disabilities.
Running workshops, talks or assemblies where students can ask questions about veganism could be extremely helpful. It can offer them the opportunity to ask all their questions about veganism; they may be surprised to find it’s really not so radical or ‘extreme’ once they understand the issues behind animal agriculture, whether they connect with the ethical, environmental or health reasons. Perhaps your school would like a talk from Viva! on the topic; if so, get in touch.
Even in universities, animal dissection is becoming optional for students, just as it should be at A-level and GCSE levels. Whether a student is vegan or not, dissections frequently make students of all backgrounds uncomfortable; if university students pursuing biological degrees don’t even need to do dissections, should it be forced upon a fifteen-year-old?
The best way to ensure an inclusive classroom is to use alternatives to animal dissections. It is not a compulsory component of GCSE or A-level Science specifications that students perform dissections. For example, the AQA A-level practical specification states, “Dissection of animal or plant gas exchange or mass transport system or organs within such a system’”. There is no requirement for animal tissue to be used within the classroom as teachers can focus on plant-based gas exchange or mass transport systems instead, which would include everyone and harm no one.
Other options include using 3D anatomy models, which students can take apart and hold and use repeatedly – unlike dissections. Many schools already have these models available. You can also use computer simulations or teach plant anatomy. If you would like to put these ideas forward to the school, you can also point out that these methods are cheaper than buying animals every time there’s a dissection, foster more respect for animals, are more sustainable and ensure that your school is as inclusive as possible. Choosing animal-free options would then include vegans, vegetarians, people of various faiths, and anyone else disturbed by the idea of cutting into an animal, all while saving money for the school and improving health and safety. It is a win-win for everyone.
If, as a teacher, you feel that animal dissections must be studied, then you can look at videos or DVDs of filmed dissections. You can use these videos to teach the students about what is happening without killing additional animals. You can find helpful videos of dissections recorded by Bristol University for your classes here. If you go down this route, please check with the vegan student(s) – and indeed all students – that they are comfortable with this.
If you are still going to go ahead with animal dissections, you can take steps to ensure the vegan student(s) isn’t/aren’t left out. Instead of students opting out of dissections, perhaps singling them out by asking them to put their hand up (for example); why not ask students to opt-in instead? That way, they are less likely to pay attention to students who aren’t raising their hands, reducing pressure on those who may not want to participate, for any number of reasons.
- Explore virtual dissections of frogs, fish, pigs, flies, cats, invertebrates and various cells:
- For detailed animated 3D heart models, go to:
- Explore detailed information on plant dissections:
- Developed by the University of Bristol, this website covers the key points from GCSE specifications across all the major boards for dissections – on the digestive tract, heart and kidneys of a pig:
- Explore this free program, allowing users to virtually dissect a foetal pig, an owl pellet, a starfish, a cow eye or a bullfrog. Every dissection is detailed and offers quizzes after each section:
City farms may look like happy, idyllic places for animals to live and are certainly nothing like factory or intensive farms. But for some people, that’s precisely the point. It can be upsetting to see people have the impression that meat, dairy and eggs usually come from places like city farms when that is not the case. In fact, 85 per cent of farmed animals are kept in factory farms.
At the same time, the animals on city farms are still killed. They may have bigger enclosures and better welfare than other farmed animals, but they are nonetheless killed at a fraction of their natural lifespan. Vegan students know this and it can be upsetting to see and perhaps stroke and/or feed cute piglets or lambs, knowing that they will soon be sent to a slaughterhouse.
What You Can Do:
- Alternative Trip Options: Consider offering alternative trip options that are more inclusive for all students. Trips to nature reserves or animal sanctuaries can provide just as valuable an educational experience about animals without the ethical concerns associated with city farms.
- Private Discussion: Before the trip, have a private discussion with the vegan student(s). Every vegan has different beliefs and sensitivities, so it’s essential to understand their perspective. Some students may be uncomfortable visiting a city farm, while others may not mind. Respect their views and preferences.
- Choice: Give the vegan student(s) the option to choose an alternative activity if they are uncomfortable with the city farm trip. Allowing them to make this choice empowers them and can make them feel less excluded.
- Education: Use this as an opportunity to educate the class about veganism and the ethical concerns related to animal farming. This can foster understanding and empathy among students.
By taking these steps, you can create a more inclusive and respectful learning environment that considers the ethical concerns of vegan students while still providing educational opportunities for all.
Food Technology syllabi have adapted to the growing number of vegans in recent years and there’s absolutely no requirement for students to cook with animal products. You’ll find that the syllabus will say something along the lines of ‘meat, fish or alternative’ nowadays; the AQA GCSE syllabus even notes that all students should learn “how to plan a balanced meal for specific dietary groups: vegetarian and vegan, coeliac, lactose intolerant and high fibre diets”.
However, students often share what they’ve made with other students at the end of class and vegan student(s) may still feel excluded as they choose not to eat non-vegan foods. Just like The Great British Bake Off, it might be nice to do one or more all-vegan classes where the vegan student(s) can join in with the sharing. That also ensures you’re covering the requirement to teach students how to plan balanced meals for specific dietary groups!
Overall, there’s no helping the fact that most students won’t be cooking vegan food in every class. But you can still help the vegan student(s) feel less excluded by ensuring that people don’t refer to cow’s milk as ‘normal’ or ‘standard milk’ as opposed to ‘vegan milk’, for example, or that there isn’t any indication that the vegan meals are somehow inferior to other meals.
We would strongly encourage you to reconsider a chick-hatching project. While it may seem cute for the students, the animals can suffer immensely. Being handled by multiple children can be highly stressful for young chicks who need a mother and proper nurturing. In some cases, chicks die from unintentional neglect.
Chick-hatching projects also perpetuate the idea that animals are commodities for us to breed at our convenience and that our fleeting appreciation of their cuteness matters more than their wellbeing or lives.
Just like dissection, a chick-hatching project will not only be seen as an issue by vegans. Students will no doubt question where the chick’s mother is and some will be upset when they learn that the chicks may be killed once the ‘project’ is over. Mother hens know precisely how to look after the eggs, rotate them and keep them warm and to communicate with them, calming and reassuring them as they grow; teachers and students don’t necessarily know the proper procedures and can’t replicate the care they should receive. If chicks haven’t been appropriately rotated, they can end up hatching in a deformed state and schools typically kill deformed chicks. This is distressing not just to vegans but to anyone who feels compassion for animals.
For the sake of the chicks and all of your students please consider the following resources as a kinder alternative to chick-hatching.
- For younger children, have a look at all the learning resources offered at:
- See the day-by-day development of a chick at:
- Have a look at an extraordinary video of red-tailed hawk eggs hatching online; students get to see not just the hatching but how the mother hen carefully watches over her young:
- 4-H Virtual Farm has plenty of information, videos and images for students to learn about the chick-hatching process at:
It’s fantastic to hear you want to promote veganism at your school! Educating students on the reality of animal agriculture and its impact is a significant and effective way of teaching the next generation the benefits of veganism for the planet, health and animals.
- Have a look at our wallcharts, which will brighten up your classroom and show students how you can get all the nutrients you need on a vegan diet.
- See if the school would consider hosting a talk from Viva! to reach all the students.
If you want to be more active or need help with advice or resources, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good nutrition is essential during childhood as it’s a time of rapid growth and development. Experts agree that a well-planned, varied vegan diet is suitable for everyone, including babies and children, as it contains all the healthy fats, plant protein and carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals needed but none of the unhealthy saturated animal fat, animal protein, hormones and other undesirable substances linked to disease.
Eight out of 10 children in the UK don’t get their 5-a-day fruits and vegetables. Vegan children are much more likely to get the fruit and veg they need, which is vital for ensuring an adequate intake of vitamins, minerals and fibre. A largely wholefood vegan diet, which includes pulses, wholegrains, nuts and seeds, will provide plenty of protein. Calcium-fortified plant milk and yoghurts, green vegetables and pulses all provide excellent sources of calcium, while nuts and seeds are also excellent sources of healthy fats like omega-3s.
Everyone (including children) in the UK, regardless of diet, should consider taking a vitamin D supplement in winter due to a lack of the right type of sunlight (or UVB radiation) from October to March. Vegan children (and adults) should take a daily B12 supplement – according to latest recommendations, they need 25-50 micrograms a day. A healthy, varied vegan diet can supply all the other nutrients they need.
Find out more.
Almost one in every two girls (48 per cent) aged 11 to 18 in the UK fail to meet the recommended iron intake. Nine per cent of boys aged 11 to 18 are falling short. People often think a vegan diet may lead to iron deficiency, but vegans and vegetarians are not any more likely to be iron-deficient than meat-eaters – in fact, many meat-eaters have a low iron intake!
You can get all the iron you need from a varied, vegan diet. The best plant sources of iron include wholegrain foods such as brown rice, wholewheat pasta and wholemeal bread, pulses like peas, beans, lentils and tofu, dried fruit and dark green leafy vegetables such as kale.
Vitamin C helps the absorption of iron from foods, so combining iron and vitamin C-containing foods in one meal, such as beans on toast with orange juice or porridge topped with berries, is advisable.
Find out more about iron.
A varied, vegan diet will provide all the calcium you need. Most people don’t drink cow’s milk as over 70 per cent of the world’s population are lactose intolerant and cannot digest the sugar in dairy milk. Humans don’t need to consume cow’s milk for healthy bones, this is a myth perpetuated by dairy marketing.
The best plant sources of calcium include calcium-set tofu (check the ingredients for calcium sulphate), fortified plant milk, almonds, sesame seeds and tahini, kale and other green leafy vegetables, baked beans, oranges and wholemeal bread.
Find out more about calcium.
Years of advertising and marketing products with a high protein content have created the myth that we constantly need to look for more and better protein sources, but nothing could be further from the truth!
Most people in wealthy societies have the opposite problem – far too much protein – and while protein deficiency is almost unheard of, too much protein, especially animal protein, can be harmful. Protein won’t be on your worry list if you eat a healthy and varied vegan diet that provides enough calories.
The best plant sources of protein include pulses (peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas and soya), nuts, seeds and wholegrain foods (wholemeal bread, wholewheat pasta and brown rice).
Find out more about protein.
In recent years, the popularity of veganism has risen sharply, and many more people are now becoming vegan and/or buying more vegan products than ever before. National and international health institutions pay close attention to all health and nutrition developments and have produced studies and statements on plant-based diets for many years. The support for veganism from these institutions is overwhelming.
Here’s what some of these reputable organisations have to say:
Food and Agriculture Organisation & World Health Organisation: They recommend that households select predominantly plant-based diets rich in a variety of vegetables and fruits, pulses or legumes, and minimally processed starchy staple foods.
British National Health Service (NHS): The NHS emphasises that children can get all the nutrients their bodies need with good planning and an understanding of what makes up a healthy, balanced vegan diet.
British Dietetic Association: The BDA states that well-planned vegetarian and vegan diets can be nutritious and healthy. They are associated with lower risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, obesity, certain cancers, and lower cholesterol levels.
British Nutrition Foundation: This organisation asserts that appropriately planned vegetarian diets are nutritionally adequate across all life stages of the life cycle and can provide all the necessary nutrients.
For more detailed information and expert endorsements, you can read more on this topic here.
Vegan children can enjoy various healthy and delicious snacks that provide essential nutrients for their growth and development. Since children have smaller tummies and may need to eat more frequently, offering nutritious snacks is necessary. Here are some examples of healthy snacks for vegan children:
- Energy Balls or Bars: Create energy balls or bars using nuts, oats and dried fruit, and pair them with a fresh smoothie.
- Plant-based Yoghurt with Oats and Fruit: Top plant-based yoghurt with oats and fresh fruit for a creamy and nutrient-rich snack.
- Nuts and Oats Smoothie: Blend nuts and oats into a fruit smoothie for a nutritious and filling treat.
- Plant-milk Cocoa with Oat Biscuits and Fruit: Enjoy a comforting cup of plant-based cocoa with oat biscuits and fresh fruit.
- Hummus and Veggie Sticks: Dip vegetable sticks into hummus for a crunchy and nutritious snack.
- Avocado and Tomato Sandwich: Create a sandwich with avocado, tomato slices, and seeds for a fresh and nutritious option.
- Nori Sheets with Rice, Tofu, and Veggies: Roll up nori (seaweed) sheets stuffed with rice, tofu, and veggies into triangles, squares, or rolls.
- Homemade Traybake or Muffin-Style Creations: Bake homemade traybakes or muffins using wholemeal flour, nuts and fruit for a delightful snack.
For more child-friendly sandwich options and recipes, you can explore Viva’s Vegan Recipe Club or for more information on kids’ nutrition, we’ve compiled
Vegan children can get almost all of their essential nutrients from a well-planned, varied vegan diet. However, certain supplements are recommended to ensure they receive all they need for healthy growth and development. Here are the essential supplements that vegan children should consider:
- Vitamin B12: All health experts and organisations agree that it’s important for vegan children of all ages to have a reliable source of vitamin B12. This means taking a supplement. The recommended daily intakes are as follows:
- Babies and children up to three years: 5 micrograms
- Children from four to ten years: 25 micrograms
- Children older than ten years: 50 micrograms
- These recommended amounts are higher than the official daily recommended intakes because not all B12 from supplements is absorbed, so higher doses of this water-soluble vitamin ensure sufficient intake (any excess is excreted in your urine).
- Vitamin D: Like all children regardless of diet, vegan children should also consider taking a vitamin D supplement in winter. The recommended daily intakes are:
- Breastfed babies: 8.5-10 micrograms
- Formula-fed babies: None, as infant formulas contain vitamin D
- Toddlers and older children, including teenagers: 10 micrograms
- Some authors recommend higher doses from 12 months onwards (15-38 micrograms), but very high doses should only be used in cases of deficiency to avoid potential harm.
Additionally, there are a few other nutrients to be mindful to include in children’s diets:
- Iodine: Iodine, mainly found in seaweed, can be tricky and children and adults can get too little or too much of it. If you don’t use iodised salt, consider using an occasional sprinkle of wakame, nori or arame seaweed.. Children up to four years need 75 micrograms, while older children and teenagers need 150 micrograms.
- Iron, Zinc, and Calcium: Vegan children who eat a varied healthy vegan diet should generally have sufficient intakes of these nutrients. They should be able to get plenty of iron from wholegrain foods, pulses, nuts and seeds and green leafy veg. Zinc is found in pumpkin seeds, wholegrain foods, tempeh and tofu, lentils, cashew nuts, sesame seeds and tahini. You can ensure they get enough calcium by incorporating calcium-fortified plant drinks, fortified cereal products, leafy greens, calcium-set tofu, almonds, dried figs, and tahini. If your child is a picky eater, consider a children’s multivitamin/mineral supplement.
- Omega-3 Fats: Omega-3s are crucial for child development. Rich sources include flaxseed, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts. Try adding a teaspoonful of flaxseed oil or a tablespoonful of ground flaxseeds to a smoothie/yoghurt, or add a few walnuts to their lunchbox or morning snack. If your child doesn’t consume any of these foods, they may need an omega-3 supplement. A supplement containing 100 mg of DHA omega-3 fat daily is recommended for toddlers aged 1-3
While some parents choose to provide their children with a multivitamin/mineral supplement, it’s important to remember that supplements should complement a nutritious diet. A well-rounded, energy-rich, fresh-food-based diet should be the primary focus. Consider talking to a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian for personalised guidance on your child’s specific nutritional needs. You can visit for more detailed information.
Vegan children can obtain essential omega-3 fats from various plant-based sources. Here are some options for getting omega-3 fats in a vegan diet:
- Flaxseeds: Flaxseeds are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Ground flaxseeds are versatile and can be easily added to cereals, smoothies or baked goods. Whole flaxseeds will pass straight through you!
- Chia Seeds: Chia seeds are another rich source of ALA omega-3 fatty acid. They can be added to yoghurt, porridge or made into chia pudding.
- Hemp Seeds: Hemp seeds are high in ALA and can be sprinkled on salads, added to smoothies, or included in granola.
- Walnuts: Walnuts are a convenient and tasty way to include omega-3s. They can be eaten as a snack, added to salads or desserts.
- Flaxseed Oil: Flaxseed oil is made from pressed flaxseeds and can be used for salad dressing or drizzled over cooked dishes. Using flaxseed oil in cold food only is essential because heat can destroy its omega-3 content.
- Rapeseed Oil: Rapeseed oil, also known as canola oil, is suitable for cooking as it has a higher smoke point than flaxseed oil. It contains omega-3s and is a healthy choice for sautéing and frying.
For vegan infants under 12 months who have started eating solids, giving them a teaspoon of flaxseed oil daily is recommended to ensure they receive sufficient omega-3s. If they don’t like the taste, you can stir it into their food.
If you decide to give your child an omega-3 supplement, choose one derived from algae, not fish oil, to avoid the toxins found in fish oils.
Older vegan children can meet their omega-3 needs through dietary sources. They can consume one teaspoon of flaxseed oil, one tablespoon of ground flaxseed or chia seeds, two tablespoons of hemp seeds, or ten walnut halves to fulfil their daily omega-3 requirements. However, if a child is exceptionally selective about their food and does not include these sources in their diet, a supplement may be necessary to ensure an adequate intake of omega-3 fatty acids.
It’s essential to provide a balanced and varied vegan diet that includes these omega-3-rich foods to support the health and development of vegan children. For more information on specific nutrients, visit Viva’s page on supplements for vegan children.
A vegan diet can be immensely cost-effective and there’s scientific evidence prove it. Contrary to some misconceptions, found that adopting a vegan diet in high-income countries, such as the US, the UK and most of Europe, could lead to savings on food bills. Here’s why:
- Cost Savings: The study compared the cost of seven sustainable diets to the current typical diet in 150 countries and used food prices from the World Bank’s International Comparison Program. The results showed that vegan diets were among the most affordable and, in some cases, could save up to one-third on food bills. This is excellent news for vegans and those considering a vegan lifestyle.
- Whole Foods Focus: It’s essential to note that the study primarily focused on whole foods and did not include meat replacements or dining out. Whole plant-based foods like grains, pulses, fruits and vegetables are typically more budget-friendly.
- Sustainability: Besides the cost savings, a shift toward a more sustainable food system is vital in addressing the climate emergency. Vegan diets not only benefit personal finances but also contribute to environmental sustainability.
- Endorsed by Health Institutions: Major health bodies such as the British Dietetic Association (BDA), NHS, and the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AAND) recognise that a well-planned vegan diet is suitable for individuals of all ages and stages of life. This endorsement emphasises that a vegan diet can provide all the necessary nutrients for a child’s healthy growth and development.
Feeding a child a vegan diet doesn’t have to be expensive and can, in fact, be far more affordable, especially when focusing on wholefood plant-based and unprocessed foods. It’s essential to plan balanced meals and explore budget-friendly ingredients to provide nutritious and cost-effective vegan meals for children.
it would be good to hyperlink to the study here [VM1]
Soya is generally considered safe for children and no reported adverse effects are associated with using soya-based products, including soya-based formula for infants. Here’s some important information regarding the safety of soya for children:
- Soya-Based Infant Formula: Experts recommend soya-based infant formula as a safe and affordable alternative for infants who cannot be breastfed. A 2013 UK Government review on phytoestrogens and health found no evidence of harm in infants fed soya formulas.
- Long History of Use: Millions of people have been raised on soya formula during the last 60 years with no reported adverse effects. It is worth remembering too that the history of soya consumption spans millennia in some cultures which provides reassurance regarding its safety.
- Environmental Concerns: There are environmental concerns related to soya production, chiefly deforestation. However, most deforestation is driven by expanding pastures for grazing beef cattle and the monumental soya production required to feed to feed factory farmed animals across the globe. Only a tiny percentage of global soya production is used for human foods like tofu and soya milk. Many soya food producers in the UK are very mindful of the issues linking soya and deforestation and opt to use only European-grown soya beans, further minimising the environmental impact.
In summary, soya is considered safe for children and soya-based infant formula is a recognised and viable option for infants who cannot be breastfed. It’s essential to rely on trusted sources for information about soya consumption. Find out more about soya here.