03/28/08 Introducing Vegetarian Meals in Public Institutions
Ministry of Science, Education, and Sports
Pre-School and Primary School Directorate
6 Hrvatskih velikana Square
Dear Sir or Madam,
Animal Friends is a non-profit organization that has been promoting animal rights and vegetarianism in Croatia for six years, considering it a healthy, ethical, and ecologically acceptable lifestyle.
Vegetarianism excludes the consumption of animals, i.e. meat or fish. Many vegetarians refrain from eating eggs as well, while vegans also refrain from the consumption of animal milk or any other animal-based foods.
It is the position of the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada that appropriately planned vegetarian diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate and provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. In European countries, public institutions have been offering vegetarians meals for decades, which reflects their respect for the rights of individuals, as well as their attention to promoting healthy nutrition.
On behalf of Animal Friends, the SPEM Communication Group has conducted an independent public opinion survey on the entire territory of Croatia, which included questions regarding vegetarianism. The poll results have shown that 3.7% of the Croats are vegetarians in Croatia, which is about 160,000 of its citizens, while 90% of the interviewed people have agreed that vegetarian meals should be offered in public institutions.
These results lead to the conclusion that vegetarians represent a minority in Croatia with a tendency towards steady increase. Nevertheless, vegetarians are still denied one of their basic rights – the right to a meal. Even though they are tax-paying citizens, they are denied what all other citizens are granted, i.e. a meal in public institutions. Vegetarians have to face discrimination each and every day because of their ethical, ecological, or medical convictions including during meal times in public institutions where they are forced to remain hungry or buy their own meals elsewhere. For example, children in Croatian kindergartens and schools are denied their daily meals, which results in malnutrition.
The Croatian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has promulgated a Regulation on the Standard of Diet for Hospital Patients that includes vegan and lacto-ovo-vegan diet, which patients can obtain on request. Some student restaurants offer vegetarian meals, but that is only a beginning. The reform should include the introduction of vegetarian and vegan meals in all public institutions.
On the basis of these facts, we demand that vegetarian meals be introduced in all institutions including military facilities, prisons, schools, kindergartens, and homes for senior citizens. Every citizen has the right to a meal in accordance with his or her ethical, ecological, medical, religious, and other convictions.
In hope that you will recognize the importance of fulfilling our request, we remain at your disposal for further questions.
With best regards,