Children eat a vegetarian dish in a school in Saint-Denis-D'Oléron on February 22.



  • This is the latest controversy that divides the government: Julien Denormandie, the Minister of Agriculture, again denounced this Tuesday the temporary introduction of meatless menus in Lyon canteens, pointing in particular to an imbalance "of a point of social view ”. 

  • A 2017 study by ANSES (the National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety) goes against this statement: children of parents with a baccalaureate + 4 eat less of meat than those with less educated parents.

No more beef tongue with spicy sauce, long live the mixed vegetables.

Since Monday, Lyon's school canteens have only served menus without meat.

A measure defended by the municipality EELV and which is intended to be temporary, in response to the constraints linked to the health crisis.

The measure is not favored by the Minister of Agriculture.

Julien Denormandie announced the opening of an investigation by the prefect of the Rhône to verify that the menus cover the needs of children.

Guest of RTL on Tuesday, the minister clarified his thinking.

"From a nutritional point of view, it is aberrant", he launched, before adding: "From a social point of view, it is a shame, because it is always an ecology between oneself, where, each time, it is those who are the most fragile who do not necessarily have access to balanced meals who are penalized by such decisions.


Gérard Collomb, who joined Emmanuel Macron during the 2017 presidential election and who was beaten by the ecologist Grégory Doucet in the 2020 municipal elections, had already temporarily proposed the release of the first confinement of meatless menus in Lyon schools .


Do these menus without meat but with eggs, fish and dairy products penalize the most disadvantaged children, as the Minister of Agriculture suggests?

ANSES scrutinized the eating habits of the French in 2017.

The National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety underlines that in children aged 0 to 10, “food seems globally little associated with PCS [socio-professional category]” of his parents .

However, the agency noted some differences in eating behavior: the children of managers are therefore more likely to consume vegetables than the children of workers.

Their vegetable plates are not made in the same way: “The children of managers consume half the potatoes and other tubers” than the children of workers, according to ANSES.

Children of more educated parents eat less meat

Taking into account the parents' level of education, the most likely children to eat meat - excluding poultry - are those who have parents who left the school system between high school and bac + 3.

The smallest consumers have parents who have a bac + 4 level or higher.

And if a survey published by the Secours populaire in 2018 shows a greater difficulty in buying meat for households earning less than 1,200 euros net per month compared to those whose income is between 1,200 and 2,000 euros, the survey carried out by Ipsos shows above all that it is fresh fruits and vegetables and fish that are more difficult to access for poor families.

Eggs or fish always on the menu

What about the nutritional needs of children?

It should be noted that the canteens in Lyon continue to serve eggs, fish and dairy products.

The menus are also established with nutrition professionals.

Asked for a study on the introduction of a vegetarian menu per week in canteens, ANSES indicated that this diet “can help to cover all the nutritional needs of children, when it is necessary. balanced ”.

It will publish more detailed recommendations at the end of the year.

The agency did not look into vegetarian menus that would be offered to schoolchildren every day.

Montpellier researchers have analyzed the menus of the canteens from a database.

In their study, not yet peer-reviewed, they note a risk of a decrease in iron intake with strictly vegetable menus, but conclude that "the complete dishes offered in school catering, whether or not they are vegetarians , are on the whole of good nutritional quality ”.

Their recommendation?

“Diversity and moderation!

"This translates for vegetarian dishes" by a necessary balance between ingredients of plant origin (vegetables, pulses, whole grains, etc.) and ingredients of animal origin (eggs and dairy products) of good quality and in suitable quantities ".

A recipe for Lyon canteens?


Meatless menus in Lyon: Pompili regrets "a prehistoric debate"


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