Here’s some potential good news for vegetarian or extra health-conscious parents – the Active Learning Elementary School in New York City has become the first public school in the US to serve only vegetarian food in their cafeteria.

The school has now been meat-free since January, after they noticed more and more children choosing the vegetarian options over the more traditional cafeteria fare of chicken nuggets and pepperoni pizza. Now the students are provided with a range of and much healthier (and delicious-sounding) choices, from braised black beans and plantain to falafel and cucumber salad. And the switch isn’t limited only to lunchtimes; breakfast now consists of offerings such as bagels and cream cheese, and wholegrain banana bread.

Of course, students are still welcome to bring in their own packed lunches should the prospect of a meat-free meal not take their fancy, but overall the scheme has been received extremely well by both students and parents alike. The switch is also a welcome one for those children whose religion prohibits them from eating certain meat products, as mealtimes have never been easier.

The health and learning benefits of the changeover are also notable apparently; students are able to focus better without their usual midday carb binge, and their immune systems are stronger so they are off sick less. And of course, every meal offered by the school still meets the same mandatory nutritional requirements as their meat counterparts elsewhere.

Perhaps this news is a sign of good things to come; could this herald a change in school dinners all over the US and eventually here as well? Jamie Oliver would be pleased. Whatever your opinion on vegetarianism, it cannot be denied that an increase in healthy options in schools can only be a good thing.

Holly Bradford

Holly is an ex-Fed Up & Drunker who has now been released into the wild.

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