The French government has criticised the mayor of the famous culinary city of Lyon after he banned meat from city school lunches.
Mayor Gregory Doucet, a member of the Green party, has said scrapping meat streamlines meal service amid coronavirus restrictions.
But the government is unhappy, suspecting ulterior motives and has hit back, accusing him of risking children’s health, the BBC is reporting.
“Let’s stop putting ideology on our children’s plates,” tweeted the agriculture minister. “Let’s just give them what they need to grow well. Meat is part of it.”
The interior minister declared that it was an “unacceptable insult” for French farmers and butchers and the world-famous French cuisine.
“We can see that the moralising and elitist policy of the Greens excludes the popular classes. Many children often only get to eat meat at the school canteen,” he said.
Fish and eggs remain on school menus in Lyon, and the mayor promised that menus would be balanced for all children.
Nutritionists say a vegetarian diet is safe for children but advise taking extra care to ensure sufficient amounts of protein, iron and other minerals are included.
Lyonnaise cuisine is world renowned, with a particular emphasis on meat and offal but there are signs of tastes changing.
Sales of meat-free products are on the rise, and a 2018 law made it compulsory for schools to make one day a week vegetarian.
A vegan restaurant recently made history in France by winning a coveted Michelin star.
The mayor has been unafraid to challenge “sacred” French traditions. In the past, he has called the Tour de France bike race “macho and polluting”.