Summer is packing its bags and getting ready for a vacay of its own. Fall is right around the corner and that means pumpkins and cobwebs line all the grocery stores and people are dusting off their Chelsea boots. But before we commit ourselves to all things spooky, one this has to happen first: going back to school. I’m sure most of you are aware, but in case you didn’t know: school lunches and childhood obesity are in a state of emergency. I wanted to showcase some kid-friendly back to school vegan lunch ideas that you can prepare instead of trusting your kid’s wellbeing to their school’s sketchy mystery meat.
Growing up in American public schools, I ate meat like most people. I ate the canned fruit covered in syrup, the cardboard crusted pizza, and the bland mashed potatoes on a flimsy styrofoam lunch tray like everyone else. Back then, I didn’t think it was anything other than normal, and sadly, I probably enjoyed some of the meals. Little did I know, that the styrofoam plate that my food was on probably had more nutritional value than the ‘food’ that was on it.
And therein lies one of the many cogs in the wheel of obesity and heart disease that rolls across the entire United States. Childhood obesity rates have remained at around 17 percent for the past decade. Approximately 14 percent of children (ages 2 to 5) enrolled in WIC were obese. Nearly one-third (31.3 percent) of children ages 10 to 17 are overweight or obese. And 13.9 percent of high school students are obese (source). These statistics are from 2016, everyone.
Approximately 22 million children under 5 years of age are overweight across the world. In the United States, the number of overweight children and adolescents has doubled in the last two to three decades, and similar doubling rates are being observed worldwide (source).
But you know what? I can show you better than tell you how bleak it is.
I feel like we need to take a moment of silence for those atrocious facts and those photos. These were taken at various schools throughout the U.S. So depressing.
If you’re not afraid to learn the truth about how schools in the U.S. torture kids in the lunch room, I’ve linked some great studies and articles below.
I say all of this to say that I decided to put together some vegan lunch box ideas for everyone from ages 1 to 92. Whether you’re packing up your lunch for school or for work, these are all fairly simple recipes that can be mixed and matched however you see fit. It may seem pretty bleak right now, but if we just take a little time to look after ourselves and each other, we can turn this ship around before it completely capsizes. If you stir up a desire and a passion for health inside yourself and support that desire with a solid foundation of general nutritional knowledge, you can change the entire trajectory of your health, your kid’s health, and the health of your kids’ kids.
Check out my recipes after the jump!