Democratic New York City mayor Bill de Blasio is pushing public schools to replace their school lunch menus with all vegetarian options, starting with "Meatless Mondays" to reduce the city's carbon footprint.
De Blasio made the announcement that 15 schools in Brooklyn will no longer serve meat on Mondays beginning this spring at PS 1 in Sunset Park, one of five schools that have already banned meat in all of its meals, upsetting some children and their parents.
Those schools serve "spinach wraps," "crispy tofu," and "tofu and noodles."
"Cutting back a little on meat will help make our city healthier and our planet stronger for generations to come," De Blasio said. "[First Lady] Chirlane [McCray] and I are excited to participate in Meatless Mondays at home, and we thank Borough President Adams for leading the charge behind this healthy and sustainable initiative."
De Blasio said everyone should switch to a more "plant-based" diet.
"Even if you had a bacon, egg, and cheese this morning, you still should want to see more and more of our diets go to a plant-based approach," he said.
Not all students agree. Eight-year-old Gavin Garcia, a student at PS 1, was asked by the local CBS 2 affiliate if his fellow students are all pleased with this year's school menu?
"No," he said. "They don't like vegetables."
Evie Maldonado said her kids do not like the all-vegetarian meals. "I wasn't that happy because some kids like meat," she said.
De Blasio said the move would fight climate change. The mayor's office said "Meatless Mondays" will "help reduce carbon footprint and preserve resources like water."
New York City Department of Education's "Office of Sustainability" has already mandated lunches be served on an "eco-friendly compostable plate." Schools also now have three different trashcans, including a brown bin for "food scraps."
The move is in line with former first lady Michelle Obama's school lunch standards, which caused millions of kids to stop purchasing lunches and an increase in food waste.
De Blasio's office cited several New York City politicians who are vegans to praise the plan.
"As a vegan myself, I have seen what a great effect such diet can have on my own health and I am excited to see this coming to public schools," said Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda. "I hope that this great pilot project comes to the Bronx next."
"As I've learned during my time as a vegan, going meatless can be delicious," said Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal.
Food scientists have warned that vegetarian and vegan diets can be harmful to children. Lindsay Allen of the University of California has said providing kids a vegan-only diet, which foregoes dairy products and meat, is "unethical."
"Meat provides a concentrated source of essential micronutrients such as zinc, vitamin B12, calcium, iron and vitamin A, which cannot easily be obtained solely from plant foods," Allen said.