French government ministers have reacted angrily after a city mayor ordered all school meals to be meat-free.
The decision by the Ecologist Green Party mayor of Lyon was partly based on difficulties in securing adequate meat supplies because of the pandemic.
It has not saved him, however, from the wrath of the Agriculture and Interior ministers, who view meat-free school meals as sacrilege.
Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie, speaking on RTL radio, said: “This is absurd from a nutritional point of view and a scandal from a social point of view.”
Interior Minister Gerald Dar-manin slammed the “scandalous ideology” of the Lyon city government. “Besides being an unacceptable insult to France’s farmers and butchers, it is clear that the Greens’ moralist and elitist policies exclude low-income people.
“For many children, the school canteen is the only place where they get to eat meat,” he said.
However, the decision by Lyon’s mayor Gregory Doucet to temporarily provide the city’s 29,000 school children meals without meat, though still including eggs and fish, was defended by France’s Environment minister.
Describing the debate over the Lyon menu as “prehistoric,” Environment Minister Barbara Pompili said that under new
government policies, schools would be encouraged to ex-periment with a daily vegetarian menu option.
During an agriculture-themed visit to a farm last week, French president Emmanuel Macron, whose wife Brigitte was once his school teacher, tip-toed around the issue, pleading for “a complete model of nutrition” and “quality meat” produced in France.
In recent years, several French Environment ministers have proposed more vegetarian options in school canteens but have met with strong opposition from France’s powerful agri-culture lobby.
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