8 September 2023

NOTe are mayors, presidents and presidents of communities of all political persuasions, all of whom are in charge of food issues. We call on the Ministries of Agriculture, Ecological Transition and Health in the face of the risks of seeing vegetarian menus disappear from our school canteens.

After three years of experimenting with the vegetarian menu in the collective catering proposed by the EGalim law, a consensus emerged on the benefits of this balanced menu for the good health of children and virtuous for the environment. However, the State seems to want to persist in imposing a minimum frequency of consumption of meat and fish each month.

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Indeed, while the report on the experimentation with the daily vegetarian alternative should be sent to deputies at the end of February, a new decree is being written specifying the minimum frequency of consumption of meat and fish in school meals. This imposed frequency could make the vegetarian alternative for school meals impossible.

To ensure a balanced diet

Preventing school catering from offering such an alternative would be a step backwards on many levels. First for health: reducing our meat consumption reduces the risk of chronic diseases of nutritional origin, such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease or cancer.

Moreover, in the absence of alternatives, some vegetarian children would then find themselves forced to eat meat or fish, or to be satisfied with a protein-free meal by not eating it.

Read the column: Should a vegetarian menu be offered in the canteen every day?

The National Health and Food Safety Agency (ANSES) has confirmed that a balanced vegetarian menu provides the amount of protein necessary for health by combining vegetables, legumes and whole grains and specifies that it is therefore not relevant to therefore offer a minimum frequency of menus without meat or fish.

A commitment of the Republican Public School

From a social and societal point of view: a vegetarian meal is fundamentally inclusive. The Defender of Rights recommended in a report entitled “A right to a canteen for all”, “a reflection on the generalization of the substitute vegetarian meal” which constitutes an alternative freed from ethical, religious or social restraints.

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It is a commitment of the Republican Public School to be fully inclusive, the vegetarian menu contributes to this. Finally, for the climate: food represents 24% of the carbon footprint of French households. Meat consumption almost two thirds of our diet. It is essential to adapt our food system to climatic challenges and planetary limits.

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