Industry defends itself after reports of new vegetarian school assignment

Eric Barker, 11/05/2022


BEEF industry leaders have defended the sector’s health and environmental credentials after reports school students will have to source a vegetarian/vegan or kangaroo-based meal under the new national curriculum.

Earlier this week, the Australian, Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority released its new website laying out subjects and goals. One of the Health and Physical Education assignments was a “presentation to parents on tips for serving and eating food that has been prepared sustainably”.

But a report in The Australian this morning said the example used for this assignment was “using local ingredients to cut down on emissions, using vegetables and/or meat that is more sustainable (vegetarian/vegan dishes or kangaroo).”

John McKillop

The story quoted Mark Davie from the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework who said it was disappointing to hear about schools entering the debate about meat.

Red Meat Advisory Council independent chair John McKillop said the curriculum should have focused on the importance of the red meat industry.

“Red meat is an essential component of a sustainable and healthy diet. Animal proteins are nutrient-rich and provide the only natural source of vitamin B12, a deficiency of which is associated with a range of health issues,” Mr McKillip said.

“Environmentally, the Australian red meat and livestock industry has done more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than any other sector in the nation. Through carbon soil sequestration the Australia red meat and livestock industry will be an even greater and integral part of the solution, and certainly not part of the problem.”

Mr Mckillop said the if the curriculum was worried about health and wellbeing it had its priorities wrong.

“The National Curriculum Authority is attempting to demonise meat consumption through its teaching materials, in lock step with the anti-meat rhetoric pushed by activist groups operating on the fringe. It’s completely unacceptable and a public health and environment disaster waiting to happen,” he said.

“If the National Curriculum Authority was truly concerned about public health and the environment, it would be teaching about the benefits and achievements of the red meat and livestock industry, not demonising Australia farmers.”

Curriculum not recommending plant-based diets

In response, a spokesperson for the Australian, Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority said it was not recommending plant-based diets in the curriculum.

“The sustainability cross-curriculum priority seeks to support students to develop the knowledge, skills, values and world views necessary to contribute to more sustainable patterns of living,” the spokesperson said.

“In the Health and Physical Education Curriculum there are eight content elaborations as teaching suggestions for a content description on enhancing health, safety, relationships and wellbeing. This particular content elaboration is not mandatory content in the curriculum but can support consideration by students of sustainable food production.

“Australian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education aims to enable students to: access, evaluate and synthesise information to make informed choices and act to enhance and advocate for their own and others’ health, wellbeing, safety and physical activity participation. Students could be involved in justifying and critiquing strategies that have been implemented by farmers to make beef production more sustainable.”





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  1. Kelly W, 14/05/2022

    All Children deserve proper nutrition, and Animal Based foods are the most nutrient dense foods for the human body. Encouraging growing children to not eat the building blocks they need to thrive is immoral and unethical. The Dept of Education has duty of care for the children in the school system, and teaching them that meat is bad will have health ramifications as well as psychological ones in later life. Humans are omnivores not herbivores, a plant based diet is therefore biologically unsound, as it is not a species appropriate diet. Instead we should be encouraging them to eat meat and support farmers that are farming regeneratively.

  2. Helen B, 12/05/2022

    It is concerning that the National Curriculum Authority would promote the eating of kangaroo, given it’s a bushmeat that is not tested for a myriad of zoonotic diseases such as Toxoplasmosis – which is ever-present in kangaroo populations.

    This is notwithstanding the fact that the raw survey data shows ever-declining populations and local extinctions, and that the messaging about kangaroo meat being low-emissions is in fact explicit industry messaging to grow social and political licence to keep killing this native wildlife, and their joeys, en masse.

  3. Peter Dunn, 11/05/2022

    If anyone thought the ACARA was going to make a significant shift back to sensibility and reasonableness, they were “dreaming”. The ACAR Authority is, simply put, excessively ‘woke’ dominated, and rather than trying to compete with them using facts, logic and practical argument, the strategy has to be to attack the team and their game plan, rather than trying to play the ball. Change the team and/or the game plan, and you change the game. The ACARA exists to ensure the necessary fundamental education of our children and it must not have, or be allowed to assume, a responsibility for public health, the environment or any other matter outside basic education. The simple reason is that we have an abundance of Federal and State Health, Environment and Science Departments, and each undertakes it’s own education programs. Whilst some of those might also be ‘woke’ influenced, to conquer it is first necessary to divide.

  4. Matthew Della Gola, 11/05/2022

    Absolute disgrace. How about actually getting the basics right. As opposed to trying to confuse young children about life. No wonder there are so many health issues such as anxiety and depression. Let children be children. Cheers Matt Della Gola

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