The Scottish Government is being urged to bring in a new law that would require all public bodies to serve up vegan options in their canteens.
The Vegan Society and Go Vegan Scotland want ministers to introduce legislation to “guarantee plant-based options on every public sector menu every day”.
Their petition adds that as well as protecting the rights of vegans, it would also benefit public health, the environment and animals.
It launched its campaign after it claimed research found instances of “vegans not eating for days in hospital” and children missing out on free school lunches because of a lack of vegan options.
Louise Davies, head of campaigns, policy and research at The Vegan Society, said: “The Scottish Government is responsible for ensuring that our public sector provides for vegans in Scotland and the proposed legislation would assist in fulfilling that obligation.
“Provision for vegans in the public sector is lacking, with hospital patients and school children often going hungry.
“We hope that vegans and non-vegans alike will agree on the importance of our petition and join us in urging institutions to provide healthy and environmentally-friendly vegan food.”
Barbara Bolton of Go Vegan Scotland said: “The Scottish Government has recognised that veganism is a protected moral conviction under European and international law, but has not taken any steps to ensure that vegans are provided for in our state institutions.
“The result is that many people, including children, are missing out on free meals and are being denied access to suitable food when they’re dependent on the state to provide for them.
“This is not a matter of people being ‘picky’ – for vegans, avoiding participation in animal use and killing is a fundamental moral conviction, protected under law.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We will be consulting on proposals on how best to provide a legislative underpinning to support the ongoing work to meet our Good Food Nation ambitions.
“We will of course consider all the responses received on proposals that could be usefully and competently legislated on in this regard.”