New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio instituted Meatless Mondays at 15 NYC schools this week. The mayor held a conference at Brooklyn’s first all-vegetarian school, P.S.1, Monday morning to make the announcement, alongside school officials and vegan Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. The conference opened with a speech from P.S.1 third grader Andy Salas, who reported that his classmates are enjoying the vegetarian food at his school, particularly a sphagetti and tofu dish. “This makes our school unique,” Salas said. “I definitely think more schools should try this.” De Blasio praised Adams for his advocacy of a plant-based diet before announcing the initiative—in which children will be served vegetarian meals for breakfast and lunch once per week starting this spring. “This is a big deal,” de Blasio said. “We’re starting a new habit, and it’s something we are looking forward to.” De Blasio revealed that both of his children are vegetarian, and Mondays at his residence, Gracie Mansion, will follow the same initiative. New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña praised the iniative before handing the microphone to Adams—who the mayor introduced as an influential figure to the 2.6 million New Yorkers in his borough. “We are digging our graves with our spoons and our forks,” Adams said after revealing that a plant-based diet helped him regain his sight—which he lost due to type 2 diabetes. “It is difficult to move the needle in the right direction,” Adams continued, explaining that teaching children about plant-based diets is important in creating a global dietary shift. “We are going to look back on this day,” Adams said, “and we are going to reflect on the changing direction of not only Brooklyn, not only New York, but the globe.” Earlier this month, 1,200 New York City public schools—with the help of The Coalition for Healthy School Food—committed to introducing at least one vegan lunch option per day.
Photo courtesy of Jeff Bachner