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Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and student Arianna Francisco have a vegetarian meal together on Tuesday at PS 244. Photo credit: NY Daily News.

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and student Arianna Francisco enjoy a vegetarian lunch at PS 244. Photo credit: Kendall Rodriguez.

The United States might be the country with the highest number of obese people, and especially children are increasingly concerned, but it is definitely also the country with the most innovative ideas to resolve that problem. Healthy nutrition has been a priority for the Obama government. More locally, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is known as a fervent supporter of more or less aggressive health policies, his latest controversial decision being the ban of soda drinks. So it is almost no surprise that this week the first all vegetarian school lunches have been introduced in the U.S., more precisely at PS 244 in Flushing, Queens.

It seems revolutionary, in a country where fried and fatty foods can be found in abundance. The vegetarian lunches at the Queens school have been pushed by the chancellor Dennis Walcott, who doesn’t make a secret out of his conviction that healthy lunches are essential for every child and that they help educate them about what they should put into their bodies. The lunch options have been developed together with the non-profit organization New York Coalition for Healthy School Food, putting falafel, beans and tofu on the children’s daily menu.

What has been done in Queens will probably soon be followed in other American schools, where we can already find a large variety of vegetarian lunch options. Interestingly enough, this is not the case in France. Vegetarian lunches are technically illegal as a recent law fixed the standards for healthy child nutrition. According to that legal act, healthy food is among others composed by protein, that is only considered as protein if coming from animal source. Maybe the Queens example will inspire European law makers to think about the issue again and try to find a way to make healthy meals compatible with their food culture and heritage.

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