Vegan and waste-free childcare wins education award

May 18, 2018

Vegan and waste-free childcare wins education award

Tiaki Early Learning Centre's Honour Peato gets stuck in the garden to help with food preparations. Photo: Supplied.

A Rotorua childcare has gone vegan and waste-free scoring a UNESCO Global Citizenship Education award for their efforts.

Tiaki Early Learning Centre has the children growing their own fruit and vegetables, as well as making things like bread, hummus and plant milks from scratch.

Tiaki Chef Kaya Sparke said the childcare’s philosophy is to ‘walk softly on the earth’ and making the move to a vegan menu was a good way to lessen their impact on the environment.

“We began working with The Heart Foundation, who helped us tweak and modify the vegan menu to make sure it was nutritionally sound.

“They [The Heart Foundation] gave us their full support and helped us to facilitate a meeting with the parents to answer questions and address any concerns,” she said.

Ms Sparke said the childcare gives 100 per cent to creating zero waste, by making their own food to avoid packaging.

"It's been quite a journey to get our kai to where it is today, zero waste, vegan and nutritionally sound whilst still appealing to two-six year olds, so we are very proud of what we've accomplished,” she said.

Head Teacher Katherine Maud said eating a plant-based meal each day is particularly beneficial to the children.

"They are being exposed to different tastes and textures at preschool, and they are developing a genuine liking for vegetables at a crucial period in their development.

"By learning to enjoy eating plants now, they are setting themselves up for healthy eating habits for the rest of their lives,” said Ms Maud.

Claire Insley, the Vegan Society’s Spokesperson, said it’s really good that more public places are taking their health into their own hands and making these changes.

“It’s just really great news, especially coming after the story of the Turangawaewae marae transitioning towards a vegan diet.”

A bonus is that it can take them three weeks before they need to put a rubbish bin out, according to Ms Maud.

"It used to be a normal part of a child's life to help their parents in the veggie garden," said Ms Maud.

"There's also something really satisfying about growing the food you cook and eat yourself."

Tiaki Early Learning Centre hopes the change will encourage other education centres to follow suit.

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