New York City’s public school system will go vegan-only on Fridays as part of a new policy from Mayor Eric Adams. The new policy isn’t too drastic, considering that the schools were already participating in Meatless Mondays and Fridays. Mayor Adams has been an advocate for this shift in school lunch options for a long time; he was involved in getting schools on board with Meatless Mondays.
“Plant-based meals are delicious and nutritious, which is why I previously called for vegetarian and vegan options in schools,” said Adams. “I’m thrilled to see that all students will now have access to healthy foods that will prevent debilitating health conditions.”
The policy change does mean saying goodbye to dairy. Menu items like mac and cheese, pizza, and mozzarella sticks will have to be removed. Yet straight-up milk will still be available because it is required by federal USDA guidelines. These menu favorites might only have to be removed temporarily, though. I would hope that with a change like this, officials are also willing to put money behind getting creative with what they offer children on Fridays. They could work on getting vegan pizza and mac and cheese added to the menu, for example, to get kids excited about vegan eating.
The changes are moving forward quickly—so quickly that it seems like some school officials were unaware of the new policy. The Daily News attempted to speak with principals about the new menus, and only two out of the five contacted even knew about it. Fortunately, a grace period is in effect allowing non-vegan but vegetarian options—things like cheese sandwiches—to be served on Fridays.
On the surface this might seem like a difficult or unnecessary transition, but I don’t see the harm in showing kids there are lots of options for food. Some kids might even have food allergies that a vegan menu could accommodate better. Change is always a little difficult and takes some adjusting to, but in the end I think this could teach kids about the endless possibilities of food.