Primary schoolers in Leeds will eat vegan and vegetarian food twice a week.
Leeds City Council is introducing the initiative to help reduce the city’s environmental impact; by 2025, it is hoping to halve its carbon footprint. It will also switch to renewable energy sources and install solar panels on council houses.
According to Leeds Live, the new proposed school menus include one “non-meat” day and one vegetarian day. Vegan meals will also be available on other days throughout the week for those that want them.
Schools will also provide more fruit and vegetable snacks for students, including raw vegetable sticks. They will also teach children how to reduce their environmental impact at home; showing them how to recycle and reduce food waste.
Students were asked if they would mind ditching meat for one day a week. Ninety-five percent said they would not object to the menu change. The council said in a report, “Leeds pupils are taste-testing new environmentally-friendly school dinner menus in a project led by Catering Leeds.”
“The aim is to reduce the city’s carbon footprint,” it continued. “And ensure that pupils enjoy even healthier meals with extra vegetable content.”
Ditching Meat for the Planet
Meat production has a large carbon footprint. According to data gathered by the 2014 environmental documentary “Cowspiracy,” livestock and their byproducts account for 51 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2018, the United Nations Environment Programme labeled tackling meat consumption as the world’s most “urgent problem.”
Last year, more than 60 scientists signed an open letter calling on public canteens–including those in schools and hospitals–around the world to ditch animal products for the planet.
Professor Pete Smith of the University of Aberdeen spearheaded the letter. He believes it’s down to cities to help citizens change their diets.
“Eating less meat and dairy in our growing cities is a way to address the climate emergency,” he said in a statement. “Cities can play a crucial role in helping citizens to reduce their consumption of livestock products, and to enable the changes necessary to meet ambitious climate change targets.”