The decision of the mayor of Lyon, the ecologist Grégory Doucet, to impose a single meat-free menu in the canteens of the city’s schools for health reasons linked to the covid-19 pandemic has generated controversy in France and divided the French government. “This single-menu measure has been taken for health reasons,” says the mayor of Lyon. Doucet, a member of the Europa Ecologista Los Verdes party, argues that the measure will allow schools to better comply with the health protocol in times of coronavirus.
Instead of having multiple menus to choose from in the dining room, Lyon students are required to eat a meatless menu every day. This will allow, according to the mayor, that the dining room service goes faster and that the students mix less at lunchtime, thus reducing coronavirus infections.
The measure, which came into force on Monday, has generated great controversy in Lyon, considered the world capital of gastronomy. Arrived in the city with tractors and some cows, several dozen breeders protested in front of the city hall on Monday against this measure.
The City Council, governed by environmentalists, maintains that the measure will facilitate compliance with the anticovid health protocol
The opposition has accused the mayor of wanting to “impose his ideology” on children using the covid-19 pandemic as a pretext. The council responds that it is not a vegan menu, because it includes fish and eggs.
The Lyon City Council ensures that the option of a menu with or without meat will return to the city’s dining rooms when the sanitary protocol in schools is eased. The new protocol imposes a distance of two meters between students in the dining rooms, instead of one meter as before.
“An insult to the butchers”
Doucet, mayor of Lyon since July 2020, promised during the election campaign that from 2022 children will have the option of choosing a vegetarian menu every day, in addition to the classic menu, with or without meat, offered by the dining rooms. Lyon schools now offer the vegetarian menu two days a week.
The environmentalists’ move also shakes up national politics and divides the French government. “Let’s stop putting ideology on our children’s plates,” demanded on Twitter the Minister of Agriculture and Food, Julien Denormandie. The minister considered that students should be given “simply what they need to grow well. And the meat is part of it.
The Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, denounced “the scandalous ideology” of the environmentalists. “In addition to an unacceptable insult to French farmers and butchers, we see well that the moralistic and elitist policy of the Greens excludes the popular classes. Many children often only have the dining room to eat meat, ”Darmanin recalled.
Instead, the Minister of Ecological Transition, Barbara Pompili, lamented “a prehistoric debate” full of “hackneyed clichés, such as ‘a vegetarian diet would be an unbalanced diet'”.