04/07/08 The Right to Have a Meal
Marking the World Health Day, Animal Friends directed a request to the ministries in charge, requesting the introduction of vegetarian meals in public institutions
The right to have a meal according to ethical, religious, health or some other principles is the fundamental right of every individual. Consequently in the majority of European countries a vegetarian meal already is introduced in public institutions.
In the name of Animal Friends, SPEM Communication Group carried out an independent public opinion survey in all of Croatia, among others, about the people's attitude towards vegetarianism. Results of the survey shows that in Croatia live 3,7% vegetarians, what is about 160,000 residents and 90% of the surveyed persons agree that vegetarian meals should be introduced in public institutions.
Based on these results it can be concluded that vegetarians are a specific minority in Croatia, with a constant tendency of growth. But presently they haven't their basic right – the right to have a meal.
Although vegetarians are citizens who equally pay taxes to the government and surtaxes to the cities, in return they don't get what everybody else can, which is a meal in public institutions. Every day they face the problem of discrimination, because of their ethical, ecological or health believes, so they are forced to remain hungry or provide for themselves a meal by other means.
For example children in nurseries and schools are deprived of vegetarian meals which results in nutritional deficiency. Children shouldn't be in need for food because of insufficient education and unwillingness of the ministries in charge to provide an appropriate meal for them. Their parents, who want to provide healthier food for them and raise them according to their ethical and cultural believes, can not achieve the right for an appropriate meal in public institutions.
The positive examples are some student restaurants but also prisons in which the right to have a vegetarian meal has been introduced according to the Imprisonment Law. Also hospitals are slowly introducing such meals according to the Resolution about standard of patient’s nutrition.
The American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada consider it appropriate that a well planned vegetarian and vegan diet is healthy, nutritional sufficient and provides health benefits in prevention and healing of certain diseases.
For the reasons of respect towards the fundamental rights of the individual citizen, citizen's freedom of self-determination and development of healthy food culture, Croatia shouldn't wait any more with the introduction of vegetarian meals in all public institutions.