Four municipalities in rural Brazil are going vegan because of one activist: Leticia Baird, a prosecutor in the Bahia state public ministry. In an effort to spark change for more environmentally friendly and healthier eating, Baird is working to serve only plant-based meals to the area’s more than 33,000 students. “To preserve the environment for the present and for future generations, we need to take additional measures, including changing our own habits,” Baird told media outlet The Washington Post. In 2018, Baird led the creation of the Escola Sustentável (Sustainable School) program, which has since persuaded the schools to serve vegan meals three days per week, featuring items such as oatmeal, vegan bread, peanut butter, and meat-free kibbe. However, despite the positive change, Baird has received backlash from parents, members of the Council of School Food, the Federal Council of Nutritionists, and even the National Fund for Educational Development (the agency that oversees school meals), which threatened to suspend funding if local mayors removed animal products every day of the week. After the federal threat, the cafeterias have scaled back their plant-based offerings to two days per week. Baird’s goal is that by the end of next year, the students will be eating vegan food four out of five school days.
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