Bullies rammed a tuna melt into a vegan pupil’s face and told him to eat grass, his parents have claimed. Jack Shanahan has faced torment at school in Birmingham because he doesn’t eat animal products, they say. Dad Lee Hales claimed his son has been treated as if he is the problem, and asked if he might consider moving to a new school. He said Archbishop Ilsley Catholic School in Acocks Green suggested Jack could be segregated. ‘Kids will be kids, we realise that, but they can also be cruel,’ says Lee, from Small Heath. ‘But frankly, I’m shocked by the way is school is handling the situation.’

Lee and partner Helen Shanahan are both vegans and have a Level 3 qualification in nutrition and personal training. Like Jack, 17-year-old daughter Lauran and eldest son Jack, 15, are vegans by their own choice, mum and dad stressed. ‘We have never forced our views on the kids,’ said Lee. ‘What they want to do, and what they want to be, has always been their decision.’ Warehouse worker Lee said there was a row this week between Jack, who has been vegan for three years, and other children at the school. He claims his son snapped after being teased and told to eat grass. Jack responded by warning them that they run the risk of cancer from eating meat – and claims he was reprimanded by a teacher for the comment. Lee, 45, said: ‘More and more, Jack has been saying he feels unwell, then right as rain when he knows he’s not going to school.

‘It’s got so bad he is now pretending to be ill just to avoid school. This has been going on for three months. ‘He is one of the brightest in his class, but sensitive. I have raised concerns before with the school, but most of the time when we contact them, they tend not to contact us back. ‘The comment he made this week was his way of defending himself. Unlike Jack, I will not concern myself over the health of the families whose children are making Jack’s school life difficult. ‘This is a very serious matter and, personally, I think the school should be ashamed. To say that I am angry is an understatement. I am at the end of my tether. ‘Sadly, this is what vegans face in society. You get silly comments, you get silly questions, and you get that look from people.’ He added that in fairness to the school, they had adapted its school meals menu to conform to Jack’s dietary requirements. A spokesman for Bishop Ilsley School said: ‘Any allegations about bullying are taken seriously and we have robust procedures in place to deal with any issues that arise. ‘We will not, and cannot, comment on individual cases.’

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