Daily Mail

You can be healthy without eating meat


I WAS disappoint­ed at sensationa­lised coverage of Cheltenham Ladies’ College’s decision to give regular blood tests to vegan pupils because of a concern this diet could be an indication of an eating disorder (mail). I was a pupil at Cheltenham Ladies’ College from 1987 to 1994 and my parents requested vegetarian meals for me as I was not keen on eating meat. Up to 13 per cent of adolescent­s have an eating disorder associated with restrictiv­e eating habits. But this does not equate to a vegan diet, which is increasing­ly being adopted by young people for ethical reasons. one study found eating disorders are more common in schools with a higher proportion of female students and those with highly educated parents — both factors relevant to Cheltenham Ladies’ College. Girls feel pressured to look a certain way to fit in with society’s expectatio­n and this impacts on the risk of developing an eating disorder. This was a concern for schools long before the rise in popularity of vegan diets. Veganism is a belief protected by the law in the same way as religious beliefs, and a school such as the Cheltenham Ladies’ College should support vegans as they would muslims who do not eat pork and only eat Halal meat, and Hindus who are often vegetarian­s. The school needs to acknowledg­e and encourage plant-based meals in line with the global shift that is required to mitigate the impact of climate change and ecological collapse. Dietetic associatio­ns acknowledg­e a vegan diet is able to meet the nutritiona­l requiremen­ts for all age groups, including children. Vegan diets are also associated with lower risk of obesity, cardiovasc­ular disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. my memories of food at Cheltenham Ladies’ College was biscuits at morning break with jam doughnuts on a Thursday, daily puddings at lunchtime and cake at teatime. With only 18 per cent of children eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day in Britain, I do hope the food at Cheltenham Ladies’ College now reflects healthy eating guidelines.

Dr SHIREEN KASSAM, Consultant haematolog­ist, King’s College Hospital, London SE5.

 ??  ?? School dinners: Dr Shireen Kassam
School dinners: Dr Shireen Kassam

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