Yes, you read right! The country that gave the world foie gras, coq au vin and frog’s legs is being asked by its leaders to ditch its meat-heavy diet. Meat will be off the menu at least one day a week in schools, while vegetarian options will be standard in public catering, and chefs will be trained in how to prepare healthy and delicious plant-based meals.
While the proposals have sparked uproar and outrage among the traditionalists of French cuisine, they have been welcomed by many young people, where the proportion of vegetarians is twice as high as the rest of the population.
The proposed climate and resilience bill includes one compulsory vegetarian menu a week in all schools, one daily vegetarian choice in all state-run canteens, including government establishments and universities, training for canteen staff to guarantee high-quality vegetarian menus, and the stipulation that from 2024, 60% of the meat served in mass catering must meet minimum quality requirements, which are likely to favour meat produced in France over imports, giving local food and farming a boost while reducing carbon.
‘Approximately 15% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and 91% of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest are linked to livestock farming’, explained minister for ecological transition, Barbara Pompili. ‘So developing a vegetarian offer means acting for the climate, against deforestation, while giving canteens more room to purchase high-quality, locally produced meat that is better for the environment. Everyone wins’. While the focus is currently on vegetarianism, rather than veganism, it’s still a great step in the right direction. Here’s hoping more countries are inspired by France’s example and follow suit!