Flushing, Queens, NY: School 244 banned meat products from its breakfast and lunch menus; it will be serving all-vegetarian food to grammar school children.
I’m all for eating healthy, being animal-friendly, and helping the environment: that’s why I’ve been a vegetarian for almost fifteen years. It’s great that the kids are getting whole-grain bread and pastas, and that they are getting vegetarian options. What is problematic is that there isn’t an option to throw 4 oz of sliced chicken breast onto a salad for picky eaters, kids with IBS, or anyone who wants a little extra protein. Boloco (yes, the Boston-based burrito chain) gives customers the option of tofu or various meats; is there any reason School 244 can’t do that?
Kids can bring in meat products from home, but meat products spoil more easily than do plant-based foods. An apple will not get grody if left in a locker from 7 am until noon; a chicken sandwich would. Sure, kids have brought cold cuts and deli meat for lunch for generations, but those meats are more highly processed than other meats – hence the lack of spoilage. If the goal is healthy food, however, you would want meat-eating kids to eat healthy, fresh meat – and the easiest way to do that is to provide it in the cafeteria as an add-on to the vegetarian meals.