Vegetarian campaign offers carrot to schools

IF JESUS were alive today would he approve of modern factory farming methods? Do British meat-eaters have the right to get upset by other nationalities eating dogs? Compare the life of your (or a friend's) pet dog with the life of a pig.

These questions are posed in a Vegetarian Society pack being sent today to all secondary schools in response to rising enthusiasm among the young for vegetarianism.

Around 7 per cent of children aged between 11 and 18 are vegetarian and, according to a recent NOP survey, the figure rises to 14 per cent among those aged between 15 and 17. The society receives 600 letters from schoolchildren each week and a growing number of requests to lecture at schools. Some letters come from children as young as five or six who have just discovered that meat comes from dead animals.

Young people ask for help in persuading their parents to let them become vegetarian, advice on healthy eating and information on how meat-eating affects developing countries.

The pack, being sent free to 6,000 state and independent schools, describes how animals are slaughtered, what different religions think about meat-eating, and how vegetarianism affects the environment. It names vegetarians of the past (Shelley and George Bernard Shaw) and present (Madonna, Michael Jackson).

It offers menus for dishes such as granola, wholemeal yoghurt triangles and carob surprise as part of a section on nutrition. A suggested day's menu is breakfast: muesli or granola, scrambled tofu on toast; lunch: cauliflower soup, wholemeal yoghurt triangles, fresh fruit; dinner: mushroom and tomato pate, lasagne or paella, tomato and green salad and carob surprise.

Juliet Gellatley, the society's campaigns director, said: 'The Meat and Livestock Commission spends a fortune on promoting meat in schools. It's about time schools had access to the other side of the story. Young people need to know the real cost of eating meat if they are to save the planet.'