New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced this week that starting next school year, all schools in the city will have vegetarian meals on Mondays.
The "Meatless Mondays" program is aimed at improving student health and the city’s environmental impact, the mayor said, according to CNN.
"Cutting back on meat a little will improve New Yorkers' health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions," he said at a news conference Monday announcing the initiative. "We're expanding Meatless Mondays to all public schools to keep our lunch and planet green for generations to come."
The program will provide all-vegetarian breakfasts and lunches to students in New York public schools every Monday in the 2019-20 school year.
Parents will be permitted to send lunches containing meat to school with their children.
"When you’re talking to a 10-year-old and they know this is good for their body and good for the Earth, that proves we’re going in the right direction," de Blasio said in a video on Twitter. "There’s a lot of enthusiasm."
For decades we told our kids to eat their vegetables. Now kids are making healthier choices for themselves AND for our planet. That’s why we’ve brought Meatless Mondays to all 1,800 @NYCSchools. pic.twitter.com/dmfwuWl8dB— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) March 11, 2019
The program was piloted in 15 schools last spring.
Advocates of vegetarianism and plant-based diets say cutting down on meat consumption can improve individual health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2012, the Department of Agriculture retracted its endorsement of "Meatless Mondays" following backlash from GOP lawmakers and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
Last year, officials in Berkeley, Calif. voted to require city events and meetings to serve vegan-only food on Mondays.