Vegan school meals

Bahia vegan school meals featured in the Washington Post

Public prosecutor Letícia Baird leads the initiative.

Public prosecutor: Letícia Baird. Photo Credit: MP/Bahia

A project implemented in March last year to bring vegan food to 160 schools and crèches in Biritinga, Serrinha, Barrocas and Teofilância, in the outback of Bahia state, northeastern Brazil, has been profiled in the Washington Post. The project is led by Bahia state’s public prosecutor’s office and its aim is to eliminate animal protein from school meals by the end of 2019.

In total, 30,000 students will be impacted by the initiative led by Letícia Baird, the mastermind behind the “Sustainable School” initiative. The project was devised after a survey about the quality of school meals, which found many cases of malnutrition, obesity and allergies, besides poor management of public funds to purchase supplies.

“Too much sugar,  cookies, chocolate-flavored items, processed foods and very little use of mandatory itens as prescribed by the national school meal program, which includes fruit and vegetables,” Laird told G1.

“The project is scientifically based, giving us scope to guarantee a healthy and balanced diet based on plants,” added Camila Almeida, the nutritionist in charge of designing the menu.

Fast forward one year and the Sustainable School project is nearing its deadline to have eliminated meat, dairy and eggs from school menus in that remote, impoverished part of Brazil. The prosecutor who launched it insists on its relevance. “To preserve the environment for the present and for future generations, we need to take additional measures. Including changing our own habits,” Baird told the Washington Post.

Unsurprisingly, not everyone was happy with the changes. Parents and lobbyists for the meat industry clearly sided with what they see as culture and tradition, ignoring the environmental benefits of a plant-based diet. But students seem to have grasped the concept better than their parents.

“It’s good. It’s healthy, and I eat everything. It’s better for nature, too,” one student told the Post. In fact, it is on the younger generation that we can pin our hopes to see real change when it comes to adopting a vegan diet for a greener future. Initiatives like this show that some people at the helm are thinking and  ready to defy ignorance in order to push through with positive change.

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