Doctors and health professionals are putting pressure on the UK government to ban free dairy milk in schools. Plant-Based Health Professionals UK first called for the ban of meat in school cafeterias, and now the organization is pushing for free plant-based milk.

Free milk in UK schools has been a controversial policy in the past. "Around £7 million of taxpayers' money is spent on providing all school children in the U.K. aged five and under access to free cow’s milk, as well as children aged five to 18 who receive free school meals," according to a statement.

By offering free dairy milk, schools are making an unhealthy option that has been connected to obesity easily accessible to young children. One of the founders of Plant-Based Health Professionals U.K. Dr. Shireen Kassam thinks dairy should get the ax completely from schools.

"It is a defunct food product that is not only unnecessary for health but which also leads to environmental destruction, with the world’s 13 largest dairy companies producing the same greenhouse gas emissions as the entire U.K.," Dr. Kassam said in a statement.

Fortified plant-based milk and whole foods are great sources of calcium

Yes, dairy has calcium, but you can get it from plant-based sources too. Studies show a diet with too much dairy and cheese is connected to elevated estrogen levels. Last year, Dr. Neil Barnard, founder of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine was calling for warning levels on dairy and cheese to explain the increased risk level of breast cancer and other hormonally driven cancers like uterine and prostate cancer.

Doctors and health professionals are calling on the UK government as part of the World Plant Milk Day campaign, which is on August 22nd. This day is meant to celebrate plant-based milk as well as invite people to go dairy-free for seven days for the sake of their health, the planet and animals.

Plant-Based Health Professionals UK is calling for schools to offer free plant-based milk and serve more whole foods like fruit, vegetables, nuts and whole grains. If UK schools got rid of free dairy milk, and instead incorporated plant-rich calcium foods like fortified plant milk dark leafy greens, soy-based foods, legumes, sesame seeds and nuts, kids would still be getting the recommended dietary allowance of calcium. Specifically,soy-based foods like tofu and soy milk have been linked to strong bone health. 

Fortified plant-based milk is just as good for you as the real thing and is packed with protein. Milk alternatives like almond or soy have 300-500 milligrams of calcium in 8 ounces, making this a nutrient-such option. Offering free plant-based milk instead of dairy milk would be the healthiest option for kids and would be an easy transition for schools.

For more on fortified plant-based milk, check out The Beet's favorites here