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A School In Chennai Now Serves All Vegan Meals

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Amidst a perpetually turbulent ocean of disturbing news stories, it’s always pleasant to come across something heartening as opposed to heart-wrenching.

In late 2016, a school in Chennai made the decision to escew animal products from its campus and serve vegan only meals for its breakfast, lunch and evening snacks. According to a recent article in The News Minute, upon walking in to the school grounds you’ll be met by a host of chickens, rabbits, ducks and a lone cow. Sandhya Mohan, Admissions Manager for the school, states that all of these animals are either fostered or rescued from abandonment. Taking care of, or building a relationship with a companion animal often proves useful in seeing the ultimate connection between those we care for, and those we exploit. Realising that there is no moral difference between these animals, no difference whatsoever that would enable us to justify exploiting one whilst loving the other, is how many people begin to realise the implications of animal value. This realisation often becomes one of the many portals from which a transition can occur between seeing animals as things, to seeing their true personhood  as sentient beings. A variation of this seemed to occur at the school, at least in Sandya, who stated “[it] is not right to eat animals when we have them running around in the lawns.”

It’s unfortunate that the animal organisation PETA, a peddler of “happy” exploitation and “happy” animal products, decided to taint the positivity here and step in to give the school an award this January. An award that, given who PETA are, is about as meaningless as a Donald Trump speech. Not only that, why do we feel compelled to give awards to people simply for doing the morally right thing? Just because I don’t punch people to death in dark alleyways at night doesn’t mean I deserve an award for that. Yet again another example of speciesism within the mainstream animal movement; recognition of fundamental human rights a minimum standard for us all, recognition of fundamental animal rights an accomplishment for the most devoted.

The school’s actions have, of course, roused the attention of mainstream nutritionists who are quick to slate veganism.  One stated that “[vegan] food should be served to children for a short duration and not for long because the children will not be getting proteins and some other nutrients for a long time.” She also bandied about some nonsense concerning B12 and soy allergies, without considering the fact that the process of finding adequate B12 sources or an allergy to soy would not make it difficult for anyone to be healthy on a vegan diet. This sort of scaremongering is unfortunately par for the course amidst the realms of mainstream health, despite the fact that the World Health Organisation and a host of other bodies such as the NHS here in the UK, explicitly state that a well planned vegan diet is as healthy if not healthier than a convetional diet. The nutritionist’s words in this case should be reversed in recognition of the fact that, animal products are one of the main causes of human disease and illness on the planet.

On a more positive note, the school’s menu sounds positively delightful: smashed chickpeas, avocado sandwichs, soft shell tacos, garlic noodles, diced apples, bean sprout salads, shepherd’s pie, whole wheat pizzas, red Thai curry with steamed rice, Italian herb bread, falafel, onion rings and a host of other dishes for the children to enjoy.

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