“It’s very good”, “I don’t see what it’s for”… What do the children of Parisian schools think of it?

For several months, the students of the Diderot school, in the 12th arrondissement of Paris, have had two vegetarian menus a week in the canteen. That day, vegetarian lasagna is served to them. “It’s very good”, according to Gabriella. The 10-year-old student is for this measure: “It may appeal to vegetarians and they will be more heard”. But his comrade Hector is not of this opinion. For the 9-year-old boy, a vegetarian meal is enough. Two is too much. “It would be better if there was meat. Besides, it seems that meat makes you grow”. The child looks at his dish “That doesn’t make you grow taller. At our age, I don’t see what the point of being a vegetarian is.”

Christine, the school’s educational manager, knows that reluctant parents and children have to be convinced. “We have an educational role. These slightly different opinions allow us to open the debate and explain to them that we will have to move towards more sobriety in the consumption of meat, to explain that the vegetarian menus offered are studied and nutritional needs are met.”

>> Vegetarian menu in canteens: “educational support” is needed to make children aware of vegetables

On May 31, 2022, the Paris Council unanimously adopted this plan. Thus, all the mayors of the boroughs undertake, among other things, to offer two vegetarian meals per week, by September 2023. Half are already respecting this commitment. These schools therefore go further than the Climate and Resilience Law. Voted in August 2021, it imposes a weekly vegetarian menu in school canteens.

The objective for the elected officials of the capital is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions linked to meat production but also to allow students to benefit from a more balanced diet. These vegetarian meals also allow the city of Paris to save money. “Not only are vegetarian meals better for the environment. They are also cheaper than meat menus,” emphasizes Audrey Pulvar, assistant in charge of sustainable food. Before adding:With the financial leeway freed up, our objective is to pursue the purchase of meat proteins – meat or fish – of better quality.”.

The elected official specifies that the municipal collective restaurants “Already serve red label meat or fish from sustainable fishing. But, even within the red label, you have more or less expensive meats depending on the farming practices or the quality of the meat, etc.” The savings made thanks to vegetarian menus should also allow the Paris City Hall to reach an ambitious objective: 100% organic or sustainable food by 2027.

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