This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
Free food for turning veggie
An animal campaign group is offering free food to two schools if they make their switch to vegetarian meals permanent.
St Barnabas CofE Primary, in Evington, and Highfields Primary – both Leicester – have been serving vegetarian meals because of concerns about potential contamination of halal food.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) has written to the head teachers to offer free vegetarian sausage rolls for every student if they make the meals a permanent fixture.
Leicester City Council withdrew a halal lamb burger from its school menu in April after it claimed tests showed up to 50 per cent pork in a sample.
Independent tests for the supplier, Paragon Foods, showed no contamination.
In a letter to the schools, Mimi Bekhechi, from Peta, said: "Studies have shown vegetarian kids grow taller and have higher IQs than their classmates and they are also at a reduced risk for heart disease, obesity, diabetes and other diseases in the long run.
"Meat, diary products and eggs are the main culprits in the obesity epidemic. Meat production is also a leading cause of water depletion, soil erosion and most other environmental problems, according to United Nations scientists."
Susan Poole, head of St Barnabas, and Jane Ridgewell, head of Highfields Primary, declined to comment.