An activist led initiative has convinced four districts of the country to adopt a more plant-based lifestyle in an attempt to save the planet from the hazards of meat consumption.
Leticia Baird, a prosecutor in the Bahia state public ministry started the “Sustainable School” initiative in 2018 that aimed to replace all meat, dairy, and egg products with plant-based options by the end of 2019.
Participating schools would serve vegan meals three days per week, featuring items such as oatmeal, vegan bread, peanut butter, and meat-free kibbe.
The project aimed to influence dietary patterns of more than 33,000 students in 160 schools and crèches in Biritinga, Serrinha, Barrocas and Teofilância, in the outback of Bahia state, northeastern Brazil.
Humane Society International, a partner in the project, had said at the time: “The change will impact over 23 million meals a year.”
“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, in a statement.
Now with the end of 2019, schools in four municipalities in the Bahia province are ready to make the switch.
Speaking to the Washington Post, Laird said: “To preserve the environment for the present and for future generations, we need to take additional measures. Including changing our own habits.”
Although, Baird has been influential in implementing change; 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) have criticized her efforts.
Ariane Souza Santiago Silva director of the Serrinha Council of School Food said: “It’s a culture here. And this shows a lack of respect for our culture.
“[Baird] isn’t of Bahia. She’s not of the Northeast.”
Parent Jucineide Santos angry with the program that saw her 12-year-old daughter skip school meals and return home hungry said: “Most of the products are peanuts! They make milk with peanuts. What is that?”
The authorities were so ticked off that the National Fund for Educational Development threatened to suspend funding if local mayors replaced animal products every day of the week.
Following the federal threat, school cafeterias have reduced vegan meals to two days per week.
Baird remains unfazed and informs that her goal is that by the end of next year, the students will be eating vegan food four out of five school days.
Ironically, despite the resistance, vegetarianism has been catching on. According to a 2018 survey, vegetarian Brazilians have nearly doubled, from 8 percent of the population to 14 percent.
What do you think of Leticia Baird’s activism? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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