With or without meat? That's the question in Lyon. Image: shironosov (Canva) CC0

Meat-free school lunches cause political row in France

Uproar in France, after the mayor of Lyon removed meat from school lunches in the city. In response, the French ministers called for the protection of French meat in the country’s culinary capital.

Meat dishes are an integral part of Lyonnaise cuisine, but in recent years the sale of meat-free products has surged in the city and in France. A law from 2018 made it compulsory for schools to offer vegetarian lunches once a week and recently a vegan restaurant in Arès made history by receiving a Michelin star, marking a change in the French food scene.

Meat-free critique

Lyon mayor Grégory Doucet, a member of the Green party, decided to cut meat from the delivery of school lunches. By providing only meat-free menus, shipments will arrive quicker and safer amid COVID-19 restrictions, reported BBC.

According to Deutsche Welle, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin called the action an “unacceptable insult” to French farmers and butchers. Agricultural Minister Julien Denormandie tweeted: ”Let’s stop putting ideology on our children’s plates. Let’s just give them what they need to grow well. Meat is part of it.”

Food for thought

Mayor Doucet defended the decision by pointing out that fish and eggs are still on the menu, making it balanced and nutritious for all children. Ironically, the former mayor of Lyon, Gérard Collomb, issued the same measure during the first wave. 

The prefect, the region’s top official, will now decide if the menu will stay meat-free for school children. Whatever the decision will be, this case shows how food and politics can become more entangled than one would think at first sight.

Source: BBC and DW

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