[Boris the pig, who was rescued from Kingsmead School]
September 2022: The UK’s leading vegan charity Viva! is putting pressure on schools to stop housing farmed animals and sending them to slaughter and to instead focus on farming vegetables – to protect animals, children and the planet.
Farmed animals are a major cause of environmental damage, while the meat and dairy they produce are linked to numerous diseases. Despite this, a worrying number of schools are keeping farmed animals, including pigs, sheep, cows and chickens, under the guise of teaching children ‘where meat comes from’. When they are sent to slaughter, the emotional impact on children who have befriended them can be devastating.
This practice is also grossly misleading: 85 per cent of farmed animals in the UK are confined in factory farms – an unethical farming method where animals are crammed into industrial-sized sheds with insufficient space or care. Teaching children where meat comes from by having a few chickens or pigs at the school is in stark contrast to the harsh reality.
One such case reached headlines earlier this year when a pig named Boris, who was raised at Kingsmead School in Somerset, was due to be sent to the abattoir – despite being adored by the school’s pupils. Thankfully, local vegan activist Paul Youd was made aware of the situation and the school agreed for the pig to be temporarily housed with local couple Rhi and Matt Swain. Boris will soon be transported to Millington’s Magical Barn, a sanctuary where he can live with other pigs.
However, not all animals kept in schools are granted the same opportunity. Due to the suffering experienced by both the children and animals under the guise of education, Viva! is calling for schools to stop housing animals. Instead, schools should focus on teaching children how to grow vegetables, pulses, fruit and herbs, providing them with the skills they need to continue growing their own produce.
Viva! is launching a petition, calling on members of the public to ask the Secretary of State for Education, the Rt Hon Kit Malthouse MP, to instigate a ban on schools housing farmed animals.
These are the reasons why:
- It causes intense and unnecessary distress to children and animals.
- It causes inner conflict and anxiety in children who are encouraged to care for animals and then brutally destroy that bond.
- It causes distress and confusion over the morality of killing animals for food.
- It needlessly takes the lives of animals.
- It propagates misinformation about how animals are farmed (85 per cent of UK farmed animals are confined in factory farms). Almost no animals killed for food are farmed as they are in schools.
- It encourages meat consumption which is linked to serious diseases such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. The World Health Organisation says that processed meat is a group 1 carcinogen (the same category as tobacco smoking and asbestos) and red meat a group 2A carcinogen meaning it probably causes cancer too.
- The United Nations say that animal agriculture is responsible for around 20 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions and is a main cause of global wildlife loss; encouraging children to think that eating animals is normal is misguided and destructive.
Viva!’s founder and director, Juliet Gellatley, commented: “Schools need to be at the forefront of protecting children’s future. Encouraging meat consumption is doing the opposite. The factory farming of billions of animals worldwide is destroying the environment, killing wildlife and producing huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions that are driving global warming. Three in four new and emerging diseases come from animals and factory farms pose a pandemic risk. The suffering of sentient beings should not be encouraged, in schools or anywhere.”
Speaking about her experience housing Boris the pig, Rhi Swain from Taunton said: “In June 2022 we took Boris in, and we immediately fell in love. He’s basically a big puppy! He’s so playful and intelligent: he knows his name, and as soon as we arrive home his ears prick up and he’s there waiting for us. We’ve absolutely fallen in love with him. Our family are sad to see him leave, but we’re happy knowing he’s going to a sanctuary where he can thrive with other pigs. I’m thrilled to see Viva! taking action to prevent pigs being farmed at schools. All animals deserve the right to enjoy life like Boris.”
For comments, interviews or more information please contact Rachel@viva.org.uk
View the petition here.