Does Your Child’s Lunch Make the Grade?

A lot has changed since I was in school. When I was a kid, class work was done with a #2 pencil and a composition notebook; the “three Rs” were reading, writing, and arithmetic; and none of my classmates owned a cell phone, or even knew what one was. But one thing hasn’t changed, at least not enough: Although several school districts have begun observing Meatless Mondays or offering regular vegan options, many school cafeterias still serve mostly mystery meat, pizza boats, and chicken nuggets. Most schools flunk lunch!

What’s a vegan mom or dad to do?

Pack your child a lunch box full of delicious—and nutritious—vegan foods, of course! PB&J is fine once in a while, but there are plenty of other easy and inexpensive vegan meals that your child won’t want to trade, no matter how much his or her classmates clamor for them.

Hummus, for example, is a tasty, healthy, and versatile spread that can be served on whole-wheat bread or a bagel or in a wrap, with chopped tomatoes, lettuce, sprouts, carrots, celery, and/or green onions. It also makes a fun dip for pita wedges, crackers, and carrots, cucumbers, and other fresh veggies. I recommend Sabra brand hummus if you don’t have time to make your own.

The following are a few other simple lunch ideas:

  • Spread some vegetarian ham with vegan cream cheese and roll up for a fun and easy-to-eat lunch-box treat.
  • For a healthy alternative to egg-salad sandwiches, try eggless “egg” salad: Mash together tofu, Vegenaise, turmeric, salt, and spices.
  • Prepare an easy pasta salad by combining cooked spiral pasta with diced cucumbers, tomatoes, and/or peppers and chunks of baked tofu or mock meats. For more ideas, check out PETA’s recipes, or see the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s tips on raising healthy and happy vegan children.

I can’t guarantee that your son or daughter will get good grades, but I bet you’ll get an A+ for lunch!

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  • Evan commented on August 23, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    I’m 11, I’m a vegetarian, I live in Berkeley, CA And our school district and many others aroun the Bay Area has vegetarian (Not allway’s Vegan) lunches. Thanks to Alice Waters who started the better lunch program, And who started the Famous Edible School Yard at My School. (Martin Luther King Middle School) And I think more school districts should have it.

  • bunny commented on August 24, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    vegan lunch for all 😀

  • Guy commented on August 26, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    You know that most peanut butter brands contain a percentage of insect parts. What can I say bugs like peanut butter too.

  • LG commented on August 30, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    My school hardly has anything vegetarian and nothing vegan!!! I’m 13 and i’m a vegetarian and almost all the foods my school serves is meat. In the mornings i never have the time or the supplies to make my own lunch and when i go to school they have chicken nuggets, hot dogs, pizza (w/susage/ pepperoni), etc. And there salads have ham/bacon/chicken. Everytime i go to lunch i wanna puke! It almost makes me cry seeing how much dead animals my classmates are eating in one day 🙁

  • Tayler commented on August 31, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    My school served make your own salads every day, it was great. But now I’ve graduated to the senior class where they don’t serve lunches often and I have to start packing my own lunches if I want a healthy 100% vegan option.

  • Rita commented on September 14, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    I’m proud that I helped change my school to have vegetarian options. Whenever I used to go through the lunch line, I would always ask for more vegetarian options. One of the lunch ladies began to look into it for me and they did get more vegetarian and vegan options. Now they even go so far as to offer their spaghetti with meat or meatless sauce.

  • Sk commented on October 6, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    To LG:
    Hi, I understand your feelings entirely. When went to elementary school, I wasn’t even vegan then! I also did not know the secret hidden animal ingredients in many seemingly safe products. Perhaps you can do what Rita did in suggesting to your school, whoever is in charge of food or some school head that changes need to be made for the sake of students that are vegetarian and vegan. Another idea would be to form a sort of club (if your school allows club formations, then go for it) for veggies to join and have a petition signed for your school lunches to feature more variety. It’s definitely sad to see people you care about consuming animals that to vegans deserve to live out their lives, but have faith that slowly we are making changes. It will happen, if not right away. Until then, keep standing up for what you believe in.
    As for not having time in the morning, i hear you! But what i do sometimes is I prepare my sandiwch or whatever the night before, store it in containers (or in something that I can take in a lunch bag/box) and then simply take it out of the fridge in the morning. Don’t be afraid of vegan dry snacks like trail mix and sunflower seeds. Fruit is always delicious and can be filling when eaten in variety.
    I hope that I was able to help you LG. Good luck to you and other young students trying to make a change. You definitely matter. : )

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  • Khepera omi commented on August 1, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    I think that is great! I’ll try it! I don’t have an email because I am an eight year old girl.