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Pupil, 5, wins vegan school meals under human rights

Dinner winner: Lois
Chepner felt upset
and excluded when
her school could not
offer her a vegan

A FIVE-YEAR-OLD girl has won her battle to have vegan meals at her primary school — after her mum cited the Human Rights Act in her support.

Lois Chepner was upset to find she was not offered food free from animal-based products while her classmates tucked into their school dinners.

Her mother Laura, 35, assumed her daughter’s dietary needs would be catered for under the government’s universal free school meals system, introduced in 2014 for every child in reception, Year 1 and Year 2 in England and Wales.

Menu: School now has vegan choices

But she was told by Hazlehurst Primary School in Ramsbottom, Greater Manchester, that because Lois’s dietary requirement was a ‘lifestyle’ choice, and not down to religion or allergy, it was not obliged to provide vegan food.

Mrs Chepner, 35, who is a teacher, did her own research and found that veganism as a belief is supported by the Human Rights Act 2010.

She said: ‘Lois is thrilled because she can now sit with her friends eating her vegan lunch and tell them about what she is eating.

‘It’s not just a personal victory for us but for vegans in general. Hopefully it will have a ripple effect across other schools.’

Mrs Chepner, who used to run a vegan restaurant, said the school’s head teacher was supportive as she worked with staff to create a vegan-friendly menu.

Samosas, hummus wraps, pizzas with vegan cheese and ‘fish-less’ fingers are some of the foods Lois now looks forward to eating when she joins the hot dinner queue with her classmates.

A spokesman for Bury Council said: ‘We have been offering a vegan choice to pupils whose parents request it. So far it has been limited, but all of our schools will shortly have their own kitchens to produce meals on the premises.’

Dominika Piasecka, from the Vegan Society, said: ‘We’re delighted for Lois and we hope to see more great news like this from vegan children across the UK.’