After a petition which collected upwards of 15,000 signatures, the Portuguese government has passed a law which means that public places such as schools, hospitals, prisons, and universities must offer a vegan selection on their menus. Three left-wing parties were instrumental in pushing the law forward. It was approved by a majority win.
In the UK a similar petition garnered 16,500 signatures, but for it to debate in parliament, it needs 100,000 names.
A spokesman for the Portuguese Vegetarian Association, Nuno Alvim considers this to be a major breakthrough because it is the first time in history of the country that veganism has been addressed. He is convinced that this will broaden people’s viewpoints about a different style of eating.
“We feel this is a major breakthrough in Portugal because it’s the first time we have any law that specifically mentions vegetarianism.”
“It will promote diversity of eating habits and encourage more people to choose the veggie option as it becomes more widely available.”
Nuno thinks that this new law will have a great impact on the way people think about their food, and also the health of the animals. In the long run, be believes that this will lead to a healthier population.
“This is, of course, predicted to have a significant impact on the population’s health foremost, but also on animals and the environment in the long run.”
“Promoting the rights of the vegan population is as important as campaigning and informing people to adopt veganism, in our view.”
The UK Vegan Society applauds the law. In the UK it is very hard to get vegan food in public places, and this is likely due to the fact that not a lot of people are educated about veganism. The Society says that it is working closely with the Portuguese Association to try to bring vegan food more into the forefront of the food industry. The goal is to make vegan food more readily available, and in this way the public will learn more about it, and the health benefits.
“Hospitals, prisons and places of education need to cater in a way that respects equality and diversity but, unfortunately, it can still be difficult to obtain vegan meals in some settings,” Dietitian Heather Russell, from the UK’s Vegan Society, said.
“Staff training can contribute to this issue as people working in institutions may not have been educated about a vegan diet.”
“Our campaigning work aims to achieve just what the Portuguese law has – to ensure that nutritious vegan food is always readily available. I am working with health professionals and caterers to help them make this a reality.”