Farm Journal’s ‘PORK‘ industry magazine recently published an article about LA’s vegan school program, urging that the meat industry “does need to watch – and take a proactive stand against” these actions.

The program sees as many as 35 schools adopting vegan options in their cafeterias, a movement that was inspired by students who wanted to see more inclusive, healthier meal choices.

So far, the program has seen great success, with students choosing the vegan option around 13% of the time. Some new menu items “run out quickly because they are so popular”, the Los Angeles School Report previously revealed. The “positive” reaction inspired the program to expand further, with increased plant-based options and more schools taking part.

However, not everyone is as optimistic about the change. PORK reached out to speak to the school board directly, questioning school officials about the caloric value of the meals, as well as the “protein content” of the new dishes. The school responded that “calories did not play a role in this pilot program,” and added that, “we believe all of our food is healthy”.  

Research has found that only 1 in 10 adults consume the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables daily; absence of these foods can increase the risk of disease by up to 90%. Similarly, inadequate fruit and veg intake has been linked to asthma in kids. These figures suggest that more plant-based meals may drastically benefit the health of the children.

The evidence backing meat-free diets continues to pile, with research connecting meat consumption to heart disease in young people, among many other health problems. Recently, several hospitals, including children’s hospitals, cut certain meat products from their menus due to concerns over health, after processed and red meat was identified as carcinogenic.

Kid Hot Dog

The initial school board featured multiple speakers who applauded the campaign, though PORK reminded readers that some presenters were happy to state their opinion as fact, “even though it’s far from it”, they warned. This is not the first time the animal industry has expressed concerns about veganism; the dairy industry previously feared that school children were becoming vegan activists.

PORK assured readers that “the vegan/vegetarian movement is more a fad than a trend”, yet later admits that these “motives are likely to continue”. The latter is probably true; growing data suggests an increasing amount of the population is ditching meat. In fact, as much as 70% of the world’s population is rumored to be at least cutting back on meat consumption.

The shift in lifestyle appears to be driven by younger generations, which perhaps explains PORK’s concern about vegan options in schools. Recent research showed that almost 50% of young people were concerned about the environmental impact of meat. Further, it has been suggested that young people are behind the quickly growing vegan movement, eating less meat but consuming more animal-free products than other generations.

If children are the future, the future is looking greener and cleaner than ever. Perhaps the meat industry does have something to fear.