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The Santa Barbara Unified School District has become the first school district to ban processed meats like bacon, hot dogs, deli meat, and pepperoni from cafeterias!

The district already offers a plant-based option at every meal, with half of their two million meals served annually being vegan. They provide plant-based meat alternatives from the brand Hungry Planet, which has proven to be a success with students.

The district’s food service director Nancy Weiss stated: “SBUSD is committed to serving our students nutritious foods that will help them learn and grow … It’s the right thing to do to ensure that our students are getting the highest-quality food. There’s no room for carcinogens on the lunch line.”

PCRM dietitian Maggie Neola, RD, remarked: “SBUSD has long been a leader when it comes to serving healthy school food and nutrition education … Removing processed meat from the menu and focusing on plant-based alternatives will not only help to reduce students’ cancer risk, but it will also reduce their heart disease, obesity, and diabetes risk in the future and boost performance in the classroom today.”

This much-needed forward-thinking move is excellent news for students’ health, the planet, and of course, animals. Processed meats are in the same carcinogenic category as asbestos and cigarettes, and therefore have no place in schools (or anywhere else for that matter). By providing a plant-based option at every meal and removing harmful foods like processed meats, Santa Barbara Unified School District is drawing the line between diet and health and teaching students (and their families) how to eat healthily without sacrificing nutrition or flavors.

Thank you, Santa Barbara, for standing as a leader and promoting the plant-based movement and message. We hope other school districts around the world follow your lead and begin to put students’ health (and animals and the environment) as their priority concern.

To learn more about the connection between our diets and the environment, be sure to check out the Eat for the Planet book! Filled with images and facts, it is a great way to get your kids to read and learn how to make environmentally-conscious decisions on their own.

And remember to share this good news with your network as a reminder of where the future of food is headed!

Image Source: Pixabay