Furious parents accuse nursery of 'discrimination' after staff introduce 100% vegan menu for all children

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A nursery has been slammed by angry parents after becoming one of the first in Britain to introduce a 100 per cent vegan menu for all children.

Mum and dads have blasted the controversial move to switch their kids to an entirely plant-based diet which they claim was done without consulting them first.

Meat, fish, eggs and dairy products will be completely off the menu from January for 260 children, aged 0-4, at Jigsaw Day Nurseries in Chester. Picture: SWNS

Meat, fish, eggs and dairy products will be completely off the menu from January for 260 children, aged 0-4, at Jigsaw Day Nurseries in Chester. Picture: SWNS

Meat, fish, eggs and dairy products will be completely off the menu from January for 260 children, aged 0-4, at Jigsaw Day Nurseries in Chester.

Instead, staff at their two nurseries will offer the likes of a lentil-based "Shepherdless Pie", coconut rice pudding desserts and cereal served with soy or oat milk.

Some parents say they are fuming at the decision to "impose a lifestyle choice" which "discriminates" against their meat-eating children.

One mum, who has a three-year-old daughter at Jigsaw Curzon House Nursery and wished to remain anonymous, said: "It's just bonkers.

Some parents say they are fuming at the decision to "impose a lifestyle choice" which "discriminates" against their meat-eating children. Picture: SWNS

Some parents say they are fuming at the decision to "impose a lifestyle choice" which "discriminates" against their meat-eating children. Picture: SWNS

"Just to enforce it on us without any say isn't right - they shouldn't be making these decisions on my behalf.

"If my daughter wants to be a vegan when she's older then that's fine but I'll have that conversation with her myself.

"There's obviously no cheese, which my daughter loves, and no meat or the goodness from fish.

"It's such a huge, drastic change and I'm not happy about it."

One mum, who has a three-year-old daughter at Jigsaw Curzon House Nursery and wished to remain anonymous, said: "It's just bonkers. Picture: SWNS

One mum, who has a three-year-old daughter at Jigsaw Curzon House Nursery and wished to remain anonymous, said: "It's just bonkers. Picture: SWNS

Another parent, who also did not want to be named, added: "To impose a lifestyle choice on these children before they can make their own mind up is plain wrong.

"If anything it discriminates against those kids who enjoy a diet of meat and fish. To ban them from eating meat is outrageous. Its simply not their decision to make.

"I like to think I cook healthy and nutritious meals for my children which include meat and vegetables.

"My son has a big appetite as well, I think he'll come home starving. To go veggie is one thing, but to go full-on vegan is just madness."

However, other parents have welcomed the move on social media and suggested all other nurseries should follow suit.

READ MORE - Organic vegan diet ‘best for planet’

Natalie Stevens wrote on Facebook: "It's like saying you don't want your children to be educated in what will save our planet!

"Vegan or not, this is an incredibly healthy sounding menu and I am thrilled our son will be eating this kind of food.

"If anything, it takes the pressure off having to feed him uber healthy food at home because I know he'll have had a wholesome and nutritious meal at nursery.

"If Jigsaw loses a few customers due to this change they will only gain more from new, interested and like minded parents, so it's not a business risk at all."

Rebecca Louise Cusato added: "If parents want their children to eat meat they can at home for Dinner.

"We are not supposed to consume meat in every meal as humans anyway.

"It's a economically friendly diet, that involves no animal abuse or unsustainable sources.

"I just think some people need to be more educated on the word Vegan and what unsustainable sources are doing to the environment.

"Also I'm pretty sure they wouldn't enjoy the bill for sustainable organic meat would they?!"

Childcare at the nursery, which is rated 'Good' by Ofsted, costs between £235 and £240 per week, or £48 to £49 a day, including meals and snacks.

Claire Taylor, founder of the nurseries, which is Chester's largest private childcare provider, defended the decision which she says was "made with the children and the planet's future in mind."

She added: "We appreciate that this is a decision that comes with a business risk associated, however we feel passionately that a sustainable path is the one we wish to follow for the benefit of our children's future.

"The food that the children eat within our nurseries not only has an impact on everyone in the setting but also on the health of our planet."

She said the company had worked closely with an experienced and fully-qualified nutritionist to create a "highly nutritious, varied and sustainable menu which meets all of the relevant guidelines for early years nutrition and diet for children under the age of five."

Mrs Taylor added: "The change is far less drastic than it sounds.

"Our current menu is 40 per cent vegetarian and all the dishes on our new menu are existing dishes which have been adapted to make them plant-based.

"This means our children are fully familiar with the tastes, textures and flavours we are going to be feeding them which should ensure the transition is a smooth one."

She cited the "overwhelming" evidence published over the past few years highlighting the impact of animal farming on the planet.

With 260 children and 70 staff the two nurseries serve up to 1,300 lunches and 2,600 light snacks every week meaning they have a "significant food footprint to consider".

Mrs Taylor said an informal consultation process was carried out over several months which produced a very split response to the vegan menu plans.

She said accepting they may lose some business, they chose to forge ahead with the plans for the sake of the planet and the children's future.

Mrs Taylor added: "We fully acknowledge and appreciate the response we've had from a group of our parents.

"This is a change which impacts their child and they have every right to voice their concerns and seek reassurances.

"It is important to highlight that we have also had a significant amount of support and positive feedback from others across the two settings who are fully supportive of the imminent changes.

READ MORE - Plant-based diets ‘risk worsening brain health’

"Throughout these discussions we have been keen to stress that our appetite has not been to remove choice, has not been to enforce lifestyle choices nor has it been to put the children's nutritional requirements at risk.

"Our sole focus has been on making a significant and impactful change for the good of our children's environmental futures whilst ring fencing this with robust nutritional planning which meets all the recommended early years guidelines."

A document sent to parents by the nursery outlines the type of meals that will be included on the new vegan menu.

It includes 25 dishes based on different cuisines from around the world, such as:

* Hungarian Goulash: Chickpeas, butterbeans, potatoes and peppers in a rich paprika and tomato stew served with green beans, followed by plant-based yoghurt and honey sprinkled with flax seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and goji berries.
* Aloo Matar Curry: Potato and pea curry in a spiced tomato-based curry sauce, followed by coconut rice pudding and mango puree.
* Shepherdless Pie: Lentils, mushrooms and mixed seasonal vegetable Shepherd's Pie, followed by bananas and custard served with a mixed seed crumb.
* Teriyaki Vegetables and Sesame Noodles: Mixed vegetables stir-fried in in a teriyaki sauce served with egg-free noodles topped with toasted sesame seeds, followed by fruit cocktail served with plant-based jelly and coconut whipping cream.