Politics

France’s dispute over meatless school meals

Green mayor of Lyon wants to offer children spaghetti with lentils and goat cheese with pear.

A dispute over meatless meals in school canteens in Lyon causes a row within the French government. For Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie, the corresponding measure in Lyon is a “disgrace” from a social point of view. He told RTL on Tuesday that it was the weakest who did not have access to balanced meals and would be punished by this decision.

Environment Minister Barbara Pompili, however, posted on Twitter “a balanced and delicious vegetarian menu” for children consisting of pumpkin soup, spaghetti with lentils, carrots and tomatoes, as well as goat cheese and pears.

The reason for the conflict was an announcement by the Green Mayor of Lyon, Grégory Doucet. The city had announced that from the beginning of this week, school canteens would have a uniform menu without meat. The background is that due to the corona pandemic, a new hygiene concept will apply in schools at the end of the winter holidays. Everything should then run faster in the canteens. These measures are now temporary – there was such a regulation last year.

The city administration also made it clear that the food was not vegetarian and also contained fish or eggs.

Denormandy complained that, in contrast to other cities, only the town hall in Lyon was not able to provide the children with meat. However, he rejected any resentment within the government. Offering only a vegetarian meal is “absurd” in terms of nutrition.

“Old fashioned clichés”

Previously, other members of the government such as Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin had been angry about the measure in Lyon. Pompili, on the other hand, was annoyed by the “old-fashioned clichés” that a vegetarian diet is an unbalanced diet.

Lyon Mayor Doucet stressed that the general goal is not to put meat on the plate, but to ensure that all children have access to quality products. The current debate only distracts from the social and ecological crises that are currently occurring.

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