On March 3, 2017, the Portuguese parliament signed a bill into law that requires all public “cantinas”—or cafeterias in schools, universities, hospitals, and prisons—serve at least one “strictly vegetarian” (vegan) option. Portugal’s vegetarian organization Associação Vegetariana Portuguesa (AVP) launched a petition in 2015 to bring the issue in front of parliament. “The adoption of a vegetarian diet […] reflects the freedom of choice of each individual, as it is openly declared and defended in the Portuguese Constitution, in accordance with democratic principles,” AVP’s petition states. After gaining more than 15,000 signatures on its petition, AVP’s proposal was approved by political parties Left Bloc (BE), the Green Ecologist Party (ENP), and People-Animals-Nature (PAN), which collectively cited the “freedom of choice in food” as the motivation behind enacting the bill. Public cantinas in Portugal are required to implement the mandate within six months. While no such law exists in the US, public cafeterias across the country—most recently, the Oakland Unified School District in California—have added a growing number of vegetarian and vegan dishes to serve student demand for more ethical and environmentally friendly options.
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