White XR eco-warrior claims giving pupils too much dairy is ‘RACIST’ in row over plant-based food on school menus because ‘many in BAME community suffer with lactose intolerance’
- XR is demanding two plant-based days per week at state-run Brighton schools
- Alison Plaumer launched petition and says reliance of dairy has ‘racist element’
- She told council: ’65 per cent of the world’s population are lactose intolerant, many from the BAME community’
Extinction Rebellion’s Brighton chief has warned the council that giving children too much dairy is ‘racist’ because it discriminates against black and ethnic minority groups who are more likely to be lactose intolerant, it was revealed today.
Environmental campaigners are trying to gather support for more plant-based meals in schools and local authority venues in the East Sussex city.
Alison Plaumer, from XR, has launched a petition on Brighton and Hove City Council’s website for two plant-based days at state-run schools as soon as possible.
She is also demanding more council-run events to be vegan once the pandemic is over, and it has been signed by 250 people.
Putting a public question to a full council meeting last month, Ms Plaumer said: ‘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.’
Alison Plaumer (left), from Extinction Rebellion, has demanded Brighton and Hove City Council bring in two plant-based days at state-run schools as soon as possible – telling Green Councillor Elaine Hills, a vegan herself, that the policy of using dairy all the time is ‘arguably racist’
Lactose intolerance is ‘more common’ in BAME communities, NHS says
Lactose intolerance occurs among people who do not produce enough of substance called lactase – which helps break lactose down into sugars called glucose and galactose.
This means lactose stays in the digestive system where it is fermented by bacteria.
This leads to the production of various gases, which cause the symptoms associated with lactose intolerance.
According to the NHS’ website, lactose intolerance is more common in people of Asian or African-Caribbean descent in the UK.
She cited a paper that claims approximately 65 per cent of the human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy. In adulthood is most prevalent in people of East Asian descent, with 70 to 100 percent of people affected in these communities.
In the petition, Ms Plaumer also quotes Professor Michael Clark, from Oxford University, as saying: ‘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.’
She said that professional organisations such as ProVeg could offer help to councils making the shift.
She told councillors that Enfield had stopped serving meat at council events, Lewisham had voted to provide exclusively plant-based options at its events and Leeds had introduced a meat-free day and another plant-based day a week across 182 schools.
Green councillor Elaine Hills is deputy chair of the council’s Children, Young People and Skills Committee and has been a vegan for 28 years.
She said: ‘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.’
Hundreds of people in Brighton have signed the petition demanding more plant-based products in schoolsy, including solely vegan days
Councillor Hills said that the council was working with school food supplier Caterlink to increase the number of plant-based dishes on the menu.
She said that schools across Brighton and Hove already have two meat-free days every three weeks.
A vegan option was available every day for those children who are registered as vegans and a meat-free option was always available in schools.
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 we 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 Sunday, June 13.
The deputation to increase the number of plant-based meals in schools and at council-run venues and events is due to go before the council’s Children, Young People and Skills Committee the following day.