The administration of the city of Geneva wants schools to serve more vegetarian meals.
Administrative councillor Esther Alder told 20 Minutes “We are receiving more and more requests, particularly from children’s parents.”
While the city cannot impose rules on school canteens it hopes that all of its 47 school restaurants start to offer vegetarian dishes at least once a week.
Alder said “It wasn’t only to respond to requests but also for reasons of health and sustainability.” Eventually the councillor hopes to see a vegetarian option every day of the week in the city’s school canteens.
According to some calculations, producing animal protein requires up to 17 times as much land as vegetable protein, up to 26 times as much water, and up to 7 times as much phosphate, a dwindling natural resource. Growing 1 kilogram of beef requires around 10 kilograms of plant food and produces emissions nearly 70 times those of 1 kilogram of some grains.
The health benefits of cutting down on animal products are well known. Much meat, eggs and many dairy products contain high levels of saturated fat, something the World Health Organisation associates with heart disease. In addition, plants contain plenty of protein. A US study of more than 70,000 subjects found very little difference between the protein intakes of omnivores and those on plant-based diets.
There has been some push back to the city’s plan. Reinier Zoeteweij, president of the canton’s federation of school cantines and restaurants said that offering two choices every day across the whole year would be difficult because of a shortage of staff and equipment.
Judging by the comments on 20 Minute’s website, plenty of people object to the vegetarian option. A number think it’s wrong to force a particular kind of eating on others. But then those who are part of the minority who prefer plant-based diets could argue they are having to bend to the dietary preferences of those who eat meat.
It’s not easy being in the minority.