Mayor Gregory Doucet of Lyon, France is under fire for removing meat from school lunches in the city. Doucet is a member of the Green Party and promoted the change to make serving students quicker, and thus, easier to keep them socially distant during the pandemic. The City Hall also says that opting for meatless meals is more inclusive, as they can be enjoyed by students with various dietary and religious dietary needs.

The menu still includes fish and egg products. The City Hall also says that once the social distancing rules are less strict, they will reintroduce meat to the menu. However, the government of France is pushing back against the change.

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“Let’s stop putting ideology on our children’s plates,” Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie wrote on Twitter, “Let’s just give them what they need to grow well. Meat is part of it.” The government accused Doucet of insulting French butchers and harming the health of children.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said it was an “unacceptable insult” for French farmers and butchers and shared, “We can see that the moralising and elitist policy of the Greens excludes the popular classes. Many children often only get to eat meat at the school canteen.”

Despite what Doucet’s critics had to say about his decision, the American Dietetic Association has said that “Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence, and for athletes.”

Doucet, who identifies as a “flexitarian“, called the menu, “balanced” and noted his right-wing predecessor made the same change at the beginning of the pandemic.

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Doucet’s decision to take meat off the menu is in line with the UN’s report that encouraged countries to curb meat consumption in order to reduce emissions and tackle climate change. Animal agriculture has a huge negative impact on the planet. It produces around 14.5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and the deforestation caused by clearing land for animal agriculture may release around 2.4 billion tons of CO2 every year. Having meatless lunches in schools is more inclusive, easier to serve, and so much healthier for both people and the planet!

Read more about school lunch in One Green Planet, check out these articles:

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