Owners of a Chester nursery have decided to adopt a 100% vegan menu in a bid to make their business more sustainable, protect the environment and improve the children’s future.
Claire and Stuart Taylor, co-owners of Jigsaw Day Nurseries on Wrexham Road, Chester, have 260 children at its Curzon House and Ash Tree Farm sites.
The couple recently changed the nurseries menu to adopt plant-based diets based on different cuisines from around the world in order to slash the business’s carbon footprint by eliminating meat, fish, eggs and dairy products.
According to the couple the decision was well thought out with the children and the planet’s future in mind.
“We feel passionately that a sustainable path is the one we wish to follow for the benefit of our children’s future,” said Mrs. Taylor
“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.”
Mrs. Taylor confirmed that the menu was curated after consulting an experienced and fully-qualified nutritionist, who helped the company finalize 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.”
The decision didn’t go down too well with a segment of concerned parents who lashed out at the couple stating they were not consulted about the switch to plant-based meals and the decision was an imposition stuffed down their throats.
“It’s just bonkers,” said a mum to The Standard.
“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.”
Another mother who shared the outline of the meals that would be on the nurseries menu with The Standard was unhappy that her daughter’s favourite food items had been excluded.
She said: “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.”
“To impose a lifestyle choice on these children before they can make their own mind up is plain wrong,” complained a third parent.
“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.”
Mrs. Taylor confirmed the company conducted an informal consultation process over several months which resulted in a very split response to the plant-based menu and she agreed the roll-out could’ve been handled differently.
“We would have done things differently may be because our parents didn’t feel quite informed enough about what we were doing, which they do now,” she said.
“I do understand people would feel a little bit perplexed about what we’ve done if they felt it was an enforcement.
“But we are just trying to provide healthy, nutritious food in a balanced way. We haven’t rushed into this and we do believe our carbon footprint – well, we know – it is going to be reduced. It’s quite incredible, we have looked at the stats towards how much it will impact.”
Denying the change to be too “drastic,” which could hamper the children’s nutritional requirements, Mrs. Taylor added: “The change is far less drastic than it sounds. Our current menu is 40 percent 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.
“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.”
Parents on the other side of the fence appreciated the couple and welcomed the move on social media.
“It’s like saying you don’t want your children to be educated in what will save our planet!” wrote one parent on Facebook.
“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.”
Should other educational institutes follow suit? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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