Schools in four Brazilian cities are going green.
But this move toward sustainability is not about building LEED-certified classrooms or innovative recycling programs. Rather, these schools are ensuring their cafeteria meals are 100% plant-based — marking the first time districts have gone entirely meat free.
The news was announced in a report from Humane Society International, which last week teamed up with public schools in the northeastern Brazilian cities of Serrinha, Barroca, Teofilandia, and Biritinga to launch the Escola Sustentável (Sustainable School) project.
The project will aim to replace all meat, dairy, and egg products with plant-based options by the end of 2019, according to the report.
“Providing our school districts with plant-based meals will help save environmental and public financial resources, allow for a future of healthy adults, and build a fair world for the animals,” said Leticia Baird, Brazilian public prosecutor for the environment in the state of Bahia, in a statement.
The Humane Society estimates that this initiative will affect 23 million meals each year.
The four school districts, which are located in the region of Bahia in northeastern Brazil, may be the first to completely eliminate non-plant-based foods from their lunch menus, but they are not alone in fighting for environmental sustainability.
According to the Humane Society, schools in the district of Sao Paulo have celebrated Meatless Mondays since 2009 — serving more than 1 million plant-based lunches each month.
Around the world, farm-to-table programs like the Ghana School Feeding Programme; Model Vihti in Finland; Fresh Roots in Vancouver, Canada; and the Australian Organic Schools program are ensuring healthier, more sustainable meal options for students.
In the United States, plant-based lunch options have also begun to emerge across the country.
In 2017, more than 1,200 schools in New York City began to offer a vegan lunch option. That same year, in Calabasas, California, the MUSE School became the first primary or secondary school to offer a 100% plant-based menu, Huffington Post reports.
Brazil has been disproportionately affected by an obesity epidemic, despite high levels of poverty. But these cities are now showing what the next step of the fight for sustainable food systems can look like as they combat climate change, in accordance with the 11th Global Goal for Sustainable Development: sustainable cities and communities.
Global Citizen campaigns on the Global Goals, and you can join us and take action here.
“It’s an honor to have worked with city authorities, nutritionists and school cooks on the adoption and implementation of this initiative, and we’re excited to continue working closely with them to ensure the success of this program,” Sandra Lopes, food policy manager for the Humane Society International in Brazil, said in a statement.