French universities join Lundi Vert

National diet on cusp of a change as campus canteens dish up veggie grub to half a million students

Three images taken on Friday 11 October at the Lundi Vert launch in Grenoble - baloons, speeches and university students.

C’est fantastique! Higher education in France is becoming greener from today, with universities joining Meat Free Monday’s sister organisation across the Channel.

Almost all of the country’s 75 universities will be enjoying a Lundi Vert – Green Monday – this week and for the forseeable future. That means almost 800 campus canteens, restaurants and cafes offering half a million students a feast of delicious, nutritious and environmentally conscientious grub. “Yes, it’s huge,” confirmed Laurent Begue-Shankland, the Grenoble-Alpes University professor of social psychology who launched Lundi Vert last year with economist Nicolas Treich. And this is no trial: “It’s for ever!”

The duo’s vision extends far beyond making the sustenance offered to the academic world more sustainable. A website and petition launched in January called for everyone in France to adopt a Lundi Vert in 2019, and was backed by more than 500 of France’s leading public figures and environmental organisations.

Among the signatories were the Oscar-winning actress Juliette Binoche and Yann Arthus-Bertrand, the aerial film-maker with whom the McCartney family collaborated to create their captivating and hard-hitting short film One Day a Week, which details how the natural world is being destroyed by our addiction to meat.

In keeping with the educative ethos of higher education, students will be asked to make an informed decision about what goes onto their plates: meat options will still be available, but they will be encouraged to try vegetarian and vegan dishes. The hope is to gradually reduce the demand for non-veggie fare at the start of the week.

Paul McCartney said: “Bravo to French universities for launching Lundi Vert – a fun, tasty and eco-friendly start to the week! With the planet under such huge pressure, the choices we make have never been more important. Bon appétit!”

It is the first move of its kind in France, an agricultural giant that produces a quarter of Europe’s meat and whose gastronomy is heavily tilted towards animal products. But Begue-Shankland and Treich believe French appetites are changing with the climate. They produced a study, published in a scientific journal, that showed within a month of the campaign’s launch, half of France knew about Lundi Vert and 10 per cent were actively taking part – that’s 6.5 million people.

The goal of the university campaign, they say, is to bump that figure up a further 10 percentage points, and to change the perception of vegetarian and vegan food in France.

Et maintenant, MFMers, visitez la page du Lundi Vert.