A petition was started on change.org last week insisting that school cafeterias include vegetarian options. Thus far, meat has been mandatory in the food offerings for students and through the ‘guidelines’ within the petition, children would have vegetarian options. This comes on the heels of a recent ban on pork-free options initiated by Gilles Platter, mayor of Chalon-sur-Saônel, and is directly related to a secular movement in France. The ban is problematic because it interferes with the religious dietary restrictions of over five million Muslims and Jews currently living in France while continuing to offer no alternatives to vegetarian and vegan students. The petition (written in French) currently has almost 70,000 supporters (with a goal of 75,000). Please click here to sign.
Here’s a translation of the contents of the petition:
"AN ALTERNATIVE FOR VEGETARIAN BINDING IN SCHOOL MEALS"
The mayor of Chalon-sur-Saône decided to delete from the canteens of his city alternative menus to meet the children concerned not to eat pork, breaking with a communal habit of several decades.
This highly controversial measure and for the less brutal reopened a dispute over 10 years about the nature of school menus, leaving many elected in a dismay face a public debate increasingly virulent.
Can we force a Catholic child to eat meat on Good Friday because nothing else is offered, or a Jew or a Muslim child to eat pork?
In the canteens of the Republic, should take into account the religious requirements and if so what limits?
Should we force children to fast, if not wanting to violate family rules?
This debate is far from simple I admit, I am faced as mayor.
The right balance is often difficult to find both approaches and ulterior motives of each other come deflect the question.
In the absence of rule or authority capable of defining it, this topic is becoming hostage to all forms of extremism and the source of a useless confrontation aimed in reality in most cases at the Muslim community.
The Republic has, to me it seems, nothing to gain by letting prosper this controversy which challenges our ability to make "living together" a reality.
Yet there is on this relatively simple and totally secular solution that would relieve the elected managing our canteens and respond to all legitimate expectations of familles. I therefore [would] be tabling a bill to make it mandatory in all canteens to [have a] vegetarian menu [as an] alternative daily menu to allow those who do not want meat or fish, for whatever reason, to feed equally.
There are indeed very many culinary possibilities that the dose of protein required for each meal is contained in vegetarian menus respectful of health, taste and family practices.
Through the implementation of this obligation a vegetarian alternative in our canteens, it comes out the religious field confrontation debate by giving each child a free will and favoring moreover a food fashion increasingly recommended for its health virtues and already practiced by over 1.5 million people.
Because secularism is not the uniqueness and does not commit to impose a single menu for children, it's time to close these latent wars.
On behalf of their dogmas do not let the extremists of all stripes the opportunity to take hostage the base of our children and are doing the contrary - secularism rhymes with freedom.