French farmers stage protest over city’s decision to make school meals vegetarian

French farmers stage protest over city's decision to make school meals vegetarian
Photo: AFP
French farmers have organised protests over a decision by local authorities in one French city to make school meals entirely vegetarian.

The farmers' protest on Monday was the latest stage in a backlash against a decision by authorities in the south eastern city of Lyon to offer a 'single menu without meat' in the city's school canteens.

The measure was intended to serve students more quickly and streamline mealtimes, according to an email sent to councillors from deputy mayor in charge of education Stéphanie Léger, adding that it was a temporary measure linked to Covid rules.

“We will not let everything go under the pretext of a health crisis!” farming unions the Fédération nationale des syndicats d'exploitants agricoles (Fdsea) and the Jeunes agriculteurs du Rhône said in a joint statement ahead of the demonstration, expected to include 30 tractors and about 100 protesters.

READ ALSO: Why French school dinners are going vegetarian – at least for one day a week

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On Sunday, government ministers accused Lyon's green mayor of harming children's health.

“Let’s stop putting ideology on our children’s plates,” Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie wrote on Twitter, demanding action from the préfecture.

“Let’s just give them what they need to grow. Meat is part of it.”

But Ms Léger told regional newspaper Le Progrès the decision was “absolutely not a forced shift towards vegetarian menus”, and said that “the measure will be applied only until the Easter holidays” and that “if the health situation allows it, the city will return to the menus as we know them, with two meat-free menus per week”.

READ ALSO: Do French kids get the best school lunches in the world?

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin also piled on, describing the decision as an “unacceptable insult” to French farmers and butchers, adding: “Many children often only get to eat meat at the school canteen.”


Lyon's Mayor Gregory Doucet, who ousted Gerard Collomb in last year's municipal elections when several cities turned green, insisted the decision was “solely” because of the health crisis and claimed his right-wing predecessor had faced no backlash when he made “exactly the same measure” during the first wave.

Doucet insisted the menu – which includes fish and eggs – was 'balanced for all schoolchildren'.




Member comments

  1. Garth,
    Thank you for the clarification. Doucet only says “votre famille politique” so I wondered if he was equating Darmanin to a “right-wing” politician, which would be a snide remark. It makes sense to hear that Collomb is part of LREM.

  2. “Lyon’s Mayor Gregory Doucet, who ousted Gerard Collomb […] claimed his right-wing predecessor had faced no backlash..” Correction: Collomb was/is not “right-wing”. He was in the Parti Socialist (PS) from 1969 – 2017, then joined Marcon’s LREM (who was himself Treasury Minister un Holland’s government (PS). Collomb is best described as centre-left in old-fashioned categorisations. FYI – I have lived in Lyon for all the time he was Maire (2001-2017 and 2018-2020), met him on at least 4 occasions and I can vouch for his centre-left credentials.

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