Meatless Mondays in schools: Should kids’ lunches be meat free?


Meatless Mondays have become part of food culture. But, should schools adopt the practice of having meat-free lunches for their students?

Many people follow the practice of Meatless Mondays. The idea is to eliminate meat protein one day a week. The food campaign has been around for many years. While some families follow the Meatless Mondays practice, New York City Public Schools has decided to adopt this practice. But, should kids’ lunches be meat free once a week?

Recently, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that 15 New York City schools will adopt the policy of serving Meatless Monday breakfasts and lunches. While the new program isn’t citywide, the potential to expanding to all schools is possible. New York City joins other cities, like Pittsburg and Sacramento, who have adopted the Meatless Monday approach to their school lunches.

Meatless Mondays and school meals, photo by Cristine Struble

The idea behind Meatless Mondays is to promote a healthier lifestyle as well as having a positive impact on the environment. Many people see this campaign as a worthy cause. Still, should a school district compel its students to adopt the no meat based protein on Mondays?

Removing meat from a meal doesn’t mean that the meal loses its nutritional benefits. In many cases, a non-meat based meal could have more nutritional benefit than a plate piled with meat. Many people, not just students, struggle to eat enough fresh fruit and vegetables daily. Hopefully, this program increased the fresh fruits and vegetables while providing a protein alternative. Finding creative, yet tasty ways to eat more fruits and vegetables without compromising the taste is the key to the program’s success.

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Still, who should be deciding if school children should follow this campaign? Of course, families don’t have allow their children to purchase the Meatless Mondays school meals. But, some lower income families get free or reduced school meals. This type of initiative requires them to join the meatless campaign. What if kids chose not to eat the meals at school? Going without a good school meal is worse than a plate filled with meat.

Even though many studies have shown a benefit from replacing meat once a week, shouldn’t that decision come from the family? People can be told over and over to eat better, but they must choose to eat differently. In this New York City Public School scenario, the kids are being made to eat differently.

Granted the assumption is that the kids will eat better at school and hopefully that scenario would cross over into the home. It is undetermined whether that assumption will be proved true. Buying fresh fruit and vegetables can be difficult for some families. From food deserts to cost issues, healthy eating can be cost difficult for some lower income city dwelling families. Even if the desire to have Meatless Mondays at home is there, the obtainability might be difficult.

Next: Does your family follow Meatless Monday?

Meatless Mondays and the campaign behind it isn’t going away. It remains to be seen if more schools will adopt this practice for their school meal programs. Do you agree or disagree that schools adopt this initiative?