Vegetarian meals at school: an effective way to reduce your carbon footprint


From November 2019, all school canteens will have to offer a vegetarian meal per week to schoolchildren. Many french educational institutions didn’t expect the implementation of this legal obligation. But what are the real impacts of our consumptions on global warming ? and our health ?

Émissions de GES liées au système alimentaire
en 2050 par rapport aux limites pour éviter
un emballement climatique dangereux (source : greenpeace)

Animal husbandry is widely recognized in the scientific world as the component of the food system that has the highest environnemental impact. In fact, ruminant meat has a carbon footprint 100 times higher than plant based food. We could also mention 60% of global greenhouse gas emissions that are caused by the intensive farming (1), or the 80 % of global deforestation for producing crops for animals.

In this context, it is clear that our food habits require particular attention regarding global warming, that we are witnessing today. On the other hand, the production and consumption of meat have a directly impact  on ou health. In Greenpeace’s project “Pour la viande et les produits laitiers d’ici 2015“, completed in 2018, Professor Pete smith explains that “Our diet is one of the leading risk factors for premature death and increased risk of disease worldwide.”. But we tend to have a heavy hand on animal based proteins. Indeed, a large majority of french people eat meat at every meals.

Beyond the environnemental impact, several studies show that excessive consumption of meat may be responsible of serious pathology in adults and children, ranging from obesity, diabetes to cardiovascular disease. ANSES, the National Agency for Sanitary Safety of Food, alarms that children eat 2 to 4 times too much meat in the school canteens, than required for their  protein needs.

To have their daily amino acid dose, a wide variety of vegetal proteins alternatives will be at children’s disposal. This solution has other positive aspects: reduce food waste and reduce the prices of the school canteens ! On the other hand, it will indirectly raise parent’s awareness regarding this problem and maybe change behaviors on the national level.

(1) IPCC 2014: Smith, P., et al. 2014. Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU). In: Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Edenhofer, O., et al. (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge(Royaume-Uni) et New York (État de New York, États-Unis).


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A propos de Juliette MENOU

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