French schools ignore the meat-reducing message

A little girl eating a hamburgerAt a time when so much evidence points to the fact that we should be reducing our consumption of meat for the sake of the planet and our own health, France is moving in the opposite direction, having effectively banned meat-free eating in schools.

French agriculture minister Bruno Le Maire announced recently that school canteens serving more than 80 children must offer a “balance between meat and fish during the week”.

While the goal is admirable – to standardise nutrition in schools to ensure that pupils receive the recommended daily amount of vitamins from a range of food groups – opponents of the move argue that it discriminates against meat-free eaters.

The state’s perception is that protein can only come from animal products, rather than vegetables and pulses, but a wealth of data now points to the fact that meat-free diets are healthy at all stages of life. The American Dietetic Association states, for example, that appropriately planned vegetarian or vegan diets are “healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases”.

Paul McCartney condemned the French decision on his website last week, calling it a “backward step”.

The Meat Free Monday founder wrote: “The French government’s recent decree effectively enforcing the consumption of animal products in public institutions is a backward step for France. It goes against the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union by prohibiting individuals’ right to express their beliefs.”

Paul added: “We can combat climate change and lessen the risk of suffering from heart disease and other ailments by reducing the amount of meat we eat.”

Read Paul’s statement

Visit the French version of Meat Free Monday, Un Jour Sans Viande

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