Vegetarian menu in canteens: an "educational accompaniment" is needed to make children aware of vegetables

Vegetarian menu in canteens: an "educational accompaniment" is needed to make children aware of vegetables

It is necessary "to cook raw vegetables of good quality, collected at maturity and to season them well", explains Gilles Perole, deputy mayor of Mouans-Sartoux, whose municipal canteens propose two vegetarian menus a week.

"What is often missing in the approach to the canteen is both the taste quality of food and educational support," said Friday 1 November on franceinfo Gilles Perole, president of "Un plus Bio", deputy to the mayor of Mouans-Sartoux (Alpes-Maritimes), whose municipal canteens offer two vegetarian menus a week, while enters into force on Friday a new provision of the Egalim law, which obliges the schools to propose, once a week , a 100% vegetarian meal.

franceinfo: Why have you moved ahead of the law and introduced these vegetarian menus?

Gilles Perole: We started in January 2017 because we thought, already at the time, that we had to eat a little less meat, and meat of a better quality, and that we had to find a diversification of proteins, as the Mediterranean diet has been promoting for a long time. For both health and the planet, it is good to eat a little less meat.

Has the shift to vegetarian menus led to increased food waste in your canteens?

We have reduced food waste by 80% since 2010, first by adapting the right amount to cook, and having a tasty cuisine. What is often missing in the canteen approach is both the taste quality of the food and the educational support. If the vegetable is poorly cooked, if you do not sensitize the child to vegetables, he can refuse. It is first of all to cook raw vegetables of good quality, picked at maturity, and then to cook and season them well.

There is an educational challenge, during and outside the meal: when we garden children, we take them to our municipal farm, they plant the vegetables, harvest them, they are used to them. It does not scare them anymore, they eat them willingly. Only 7% of Mouans-Sartoux kids think they eat too much vegetables in the canteen. They have them every day. The must is the vegetarian lasagna, which also includes coral lenses. What also works very well is chili sin carne, without meat. We also prepare a chocolate cake made from chickpeas, which replace fats, bring the sweetness and complement the nutritional intake.

You are also one of the first cities to be switched to a 100% organic menu: is the practice generalizable in other cities?

"A plus bio" says it for a long time: the bio in the canteen, it is possible for everyone and at constant cost. Many cities are 40, 50, 60%. We see this movement progress. It's not possible overnight, you have to go in stages, you have to structure the supply, but the cities have levers at that level. Food policies are cross-cutting, we must preserve agricultural land, support farmers to convert to organic agriculture. Elected officials have these tools and must be activated quickly to achieve not only the goal of the Egalim law, but exceed it, because 20% is not extraordinary either.


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