French schools to offer vegetarian menu once a week

School canteens will now be required to offer a vegetarian-only menu at least once a week

Schools in France will now be required to offer a vegetarian menu at least once a week, and remove single-use plastic from canteens, after the National Assembly gave the “green light” to the ideas.

Over the next two years, school canteens will now offer pupils a menu that includes no meat, at least once a week, with data collected on the impact of the change on health, pupil numbers, and waste.

The Assembly also voted to end the use of plastic containers and single-use plastic in canteens in schools and universities.

The vegetarian “experiment” comes after 24 MPs presented the amendment bill to the Assembly, with motion leader Barbara Pompili MP (La République en Marche, LREM) particularly in favour of asking “public or private” caterers to “offer a vegetarian menu at least once a week”.

Vegetarian options could include protein from other animal products - such as dairy or eggs - as well as vegetables and grains.

Ms Pompili said that the vote in favour of the idea was a “great collective victory”, and was a step forward for the environment, health, a balanced diet, and equality.

The two-year experiment will allow the government and catering companies themselves to evaluate the impact the change will make on food waste, the cost of meals, and the number of pupils who take up the scheme.

The results will be reported back at least six months before the experiment is set to end.

Ms Pompili said: “We need schools to play a role in teaching children what [good] food is."

She rejected what she called “the widespread idea” that a balanced diet “must” include meat, and said that the vote reflected “a strong view from the population”, and was a step “in the right direction”.

On the subject of banning single-use plastic, she said: “This is a real step forward for public health. The goal is to protect ourselves against eventual health risks. Plastic materials can contain substances that are known to be ‘endocrine disruptors’.

“We want to introduce a ‘principle of precaution’ in the catering sector.”

But Stéphane Travert, minister for Agriculture, was against enforcing such changes by law - especially the issue of a vegetarian-only diet option.

He said: “On a social debate [such as this], I defend freedom of choice. I am not here to impose things such as this into law.”

He sought to remind caterers that they are already at liberty to serve a vegetarian menu if they so choose.

Stay informed:
Sign up to our free weekly e-newsletter
Subscribe to access all our online articles and receive our printed monthly newspaper The Connexion at your home. News analysis, features and practical help for English-speakers in France

More articles from French news
More articles from Connexion France
Other articles that may interest you

Comment

Loading some business profiles...

Loading some classifieds...