Children clean their plates on Veggie day
Students at schools in Ghent do not think vegetarian food is horrible. That much is clear from the Bachelor dissertation by Sven Van Caneghem.
Van Caneghem graduated as Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics at Hogeschool Gent in 2011. His final dissertation on “Thursday Veggie Day”, an initiative introduced in many schools in which children are given a meat-free meal once a week, was the icing on the cake of his studies. Sven won the Alpro Foundation Award for Bachelors for his work. The jury praised Sven because alongside the purely quantitative research, he also made efforts to get in touch with the children at the schools. As well as the honour, he also received a cash prize of 1,250 euro.
His dissertation has influenced his own daily eating pattern. ‘I was quite sceptical about the principle of Thursday Veggie Day’, says Sven. Why should children be forced to eat nothing but plant based products on one day of the week?
Should you impose something like that? I wanted to find out how children respond to it, what they think of the meals and at the same time I also looked at the food that was served to ascertain how good or bad its quality was.’
‘I focused on two schools in Ghent, with 200 children in total.
My findings were excellent; these are nutritionally high quality meals and very healthy. The children do not ask for something else and they ate just as much on Thursdays as on other school days. They also enjoy a lunch, without meat, which is purely vegetarian.’
‘Thursday Veggie Day is on the right track. In fact it actually influenced me too. I have changed from a sceptic into a believer. I learned a huge amount from the extensive literature study that accompanied my research. This rubbed my nose in the facts: there really is a demonstrable link between eating a lot of meat and getting cancer. By eating more plant-based foods, you can also combat obesity. I could list a number of other advantages too.’
‘Since I finished my studies, I have been eating purely plant-based foods a few times a week and I feel good with this change.’