DGE update: Better times for vegan families?


Climate change is manifesting itself with ever more drastic effects. A frightening flood disaster hit the Libyan city of Derna , burying more than 10,000 people. According to scientific calculations, climate change has made this catastrophe 50 times more likely.

At the same time, there is increasing evidence that a vegan diet is climate-friendly.

But paradoxically, vegan families often face massive discrimination in daycare centers and schools.

The facilities rely on the recommendations of the German Nutrition Society ( DGE ) and often refuse vegan children vegan meals.

Sometimes it is even forbidden to bring vegan meals with you. For some parents, the search for a place in kindergarten becomes an odyssey, while others grudgingly resort to a non-vegan diet for their children out of fear and emotional stress. However, this forces them to go against their own beliefs, which has negative psychological consequences for some and even leads them to consider leaving Germany.

It is important to understand that the DGE ‘s recommendations are by no means universally accepted. The world’s largest nutritional association, the US Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition , actively supports vegan children’s nutrition and offers support for vegan parents. Is German translated quote from the conclusions of the Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition:

  • The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics maintains that an appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diet is healthy, nutritionally appropriate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are suitable for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, breastfeeding, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood and athletes.

Scientific studies show that discrimination and microaggressions can affect the physical and mental health of those affected. According to studies , reservations against vegans correlateclosely with right-wing political ideology and racist stereotypes.

The DGE is currently in the process of revising its recommendations. It has set up a commission for this purpose. It is already clear that the results of this revision will have a significant impact on how the situation for vegan families in Germany will develop in the future. The question that arises is whether this will bring positive changes for vegan parents and children or whether the exclusion and suffering of vegan families will continue. I also explore this topic in my article.

As a long-time vegan, I can say from my own experience with many vegan conversation partners that vegan parents and families often encounter rejection. Doctors, kindergartens, schools, neighbors and even family members are often negative about this way of life. This also leaves psychological scars on the majority of resilient parents.

This situation motivated me to conduct an online survey among 913 vegan parents of underage children with the following results

  •  90.2% of those surveyed had already experienced discrimination in their social environment, with 35.2% reporting discrimination in kindergartens or daycare centers and 17.8% in schools.
  • 41.6% of those who experienced discrimination reported experiencing at least moderate psychological distress. 13.8% reported high psychological stress due to discrimination.
  • 9.1%, or almost one in ten people, said they were thinking about leaving the country.

But who is responsible for this situation?

  • 56.5% of those surveyed stated that their social environment relied on nutritional recommendations such as those of the German Nutrition Society (DGE).
  • 52.7% feel excluded from the DGE’s statements, while 96.4% would like support from the DGE in giving their children a healthy vegan diet instead of experiencing rejection.

I was curious to find out more about the experiences of vegan parents in everyday life at kindergarten and school.

So I reached out to a few affected individuals and emailed them to ask for their insights. One of the protagonists, Svenja Hartmann , gave me insight into the answers from various networking sites that are responsible for nutrition in kindergartens and schools and were contacted by her. I also contacted the German Nutrition Society (DGE) directly to find out whether they are aware of the challenges vegan families face and how their recommendations might develop in the future.

My goal was to better understand the barriers to vegan catering in educational institutions and to find out who is pulling the strings.


Before I present the results of my research, I would like to let those who are confronted with these challenges every day have their say. In a previous article on vegan.eu   I reported in detail about the quantitative results of my survey among vegan parents.

These numbers are important, but now I would like to focus on the personal accounts of those affected in their own words. The descriptions also come from the survey, in which the participants also had the opportunity to report their experiences in their own words.



  • Refusal of a place: “The denial of the crèche/daycare place”, “We were not accepted into a Waldorf kindergarten.”, “Rejection at the daycare center. We still don’t have a place and probably won’t get one with a vegetarian/vegan option. “, “Care place for the youngest. The daycare centers say, then look for another daycare center, we don’t have a childminder at all, but the same problem there too.”
  • Limitation of the length of stay: “Child is not allowed to be in the daycare full-time, then she has to eat warm, and that is not possible vegan.”, “The daycare only gave us a place until 12 p.m. because they couldn’t offer us a vegan lunch and “I wasn’t allowed to give anything to my children. As a result, I had great problems pursuing a professional activity.”
  • Exclusion from food: “ The after-school care center completely excluded my child from eating. She should eat what everyone else eats or nothing at all.” ‘Our children cannot eat lunch with the other children in the daycare because there is no vegan food, even though I said that the children cannot eat animal products for allergy reasons.’
  • Boycott/giving non-vegan food: “ My child was given milk in the kindergarten before me, against my will, because the child would need calcium for development.” ‘In the previous daycare I was approached every day by the cook about the B12 and they smuggled fish into my child / told him that the salmon was vegetarian. He later noticed and suffered a lot from it. Ultimately we changed daycare centers (also for other reasons).’ ‘Due to working hours, my child had to take part in lunch at the kindergarten. The teachers chose the delivery meal (often with meat) and we were not allowed to give our daughter her own food. We had to fight hard to ensure that she could at least get the vegetarian menu option.’ ‘Egg was forced on my child even though I was there and said it shouldn’t be done. My child spat it out and I was judged for spoiling my child.’ ‘I gave my child his own vegan food to kindergarten and found out after a few weeks that most of it had been thrown away by the staff.’
  • Remonstrances and unwillingness to compromise: “ Another daycare center to which we applied suggested picking up our child from daycare every time meat or fish was on the menu so that he could eat at home. On the suggestion, vegan food They didn’t agree to give us this daycare place.’ ‘1.5 years of struggle for milk alternatives in daycare. Statements like “but it’s just poultry sausage” or “Our teachers don’t need any training, they are educators and not chefs” and the strict rejection of all compromises and implementation options.’ ‘The teacher in our very old daycare attended a special training course to learn that vegan nutrition was bad. She then wanted a certificate from the doctor (she got it). ‘We haven’t experienced many discriminatory situations yet. But not offering a vegan lunch and not even allowing us to bring him his own lunch to daycare is a huge discrimination against vegan children. They’re basically saying: “You eat differently, and That’s why we don’t accept that you eat with us.” They undermine our ethical way of life. They accept other diets for religious reasons, but ethical reasons don’t seem to be important enough. And that should be sacrosanct in 2022. We are allowed to give food not.”
  • Stressful disputes: “The daycare center refused vegan food, lawyers dealt with it legally, and the judge only took contract law into account during the hearing.” ‘Conversations in the crèche with refusal of vegan food. Our daughter was therefore no longer allowed to attend the crèche for a while until our lawyer obtained the right to bring her own vegan food.’ ‘The daycare center didn’t want to take my son in at first. Then they tried to negotiate with me so that he would at least eat vegetarian food at the daycare center, and I told them that that was out of the question. In the end they accepted it because I was still “I received support from the daycare’s own cook, who now cooks vegan food especially for my son.”

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