NHS slammed for ‘Discriminatory’ scheme to give parents and pregnant women free dairy milk | Totally Vegan Buzz

NHS slammed for ‘Discriminatory’ scheme to give parents and pregnant women free dairy milk

NHS Slammed For ‘Discriminatory’ Scheme To Give Parents And Pregnant Women Free Dairy Milk
Image: NHS

The NHS has been criticised for discriminating against vegans after it introduced a scheme which provides free cow’s milk and animal-derived supplements to pregnant women.

The Healthy Start voucher scheme provides vouchers for pregnant women or mothers with children under the age of four – if they are either under 18 or receiving benefits.

The vouchers can only be used to purchase cow’s milk, supplements containing animal-derived vitamin D and some fruit and vegetables.

The Vegan Society has written a formal letter to the NHS about the scheme.


The charity says the restriction imposed by the NHS on the purchase of plant milk and the lack of vegan-friendly vitamin D ‘unfairly and unreasonably disadvantages vegans’.

Dr Jeanette Rowley, Vegan Rights Advocate at The Vegan Society, and solicitor Edie Bowles from Advocates for Animals, told Totally Vegan Buzz in a statement that the Healthy Start Voucher Scheme is ‘discriminatory without any lawful justification’.

Heather Russell, Dietitian at The Vegan Society, added: “It is important for everyone to eat calcium-rich foods daily and fortified plant milk plays an important role in vegan nutrition.

“In fact, the UK’s Eatwell Guide recognises that fortified plant milk represents a valuable alternative to cow’s milk. Calcium content is comparable and the soya variety is similar to cow’s milk in terms of protein quantity and quality.”

The Vegan Society argued that veganism is a protected philosophical belief under the Equality Act 2010, meaning public authorities such as the NHS must ensure that they give due regard to the needs of vegans.

As vegans do not consume dairy milk, the restriction imposed by the NHS on the purchase of milk ‘unfairly and unreasonably disadvantages vegans’, the Society explained.

The Vegan Society has sent a letter to the NHS prompting it to remove the restriction on the purchase of plant milk and provide a vegan alternative to the supplement containing animal-derived vitamin D.

The NHS has 14 days to respond to the letter.

What do you think about the scheme? Tell us in the comments section below.

Published by Oli Gross

Oli’s career and personal ethical values both help shape his reporting of the diverse world of veganism. His background is in local newspaper and magazine journalism, and his work has included reporting court cases, celebrity interviews, business analysis, food and drink features and government legislation.



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