New York School’s Plan to Go Vegetarian Is an All-Around Success

Remember the pink slime scandal? Parents across the country were horrified to learn that most school cafeterias serve students the lowest possible quality of meat: beef by-products treated with ammonium hydroxide.

In response, most states started shelling out the extra couple of cents for 100 percent lean beef that hadn’t taken an ammonia bath before landing on the plate. (Incredibly, some schools have switched back after students complained that the meat looked and tasted too meat-like. Yeah, wrap your head around that one.)

A public school in Queens, N.Y., decided to take it one step further. The school, P.S. 244, is the first in the nation to offer a 100 percent vegetarian lunch menu. That’s right, no more sloppy joes or scary meatloaf. Instead 400 students in grades pre-K through 3 choose from options like organic roasted tofu, braised black beans and falafel.

Before you get upset about the school forcing kids to eat vegetarian, know that students are still allowed to bring any lunch item from home that they want, including meat. The funny, and truly awesome part is, about 90 percent of the students voluntarily choose the veggie-based cafeteria food. And the results have been phenomenal.

After one semester, the number of students at the school who were classified as overweight and obese dropped 2 percent and is still falling, according to school officials. They’ve also documented improved attendance, higher test scores and better attention spans in the wake of the change.

“Students also attend weekly nutrition classes where they learn about making smart food choices,” reports EcoWatch. Teachers also let students whose energy is lagging to take breaks that allow them to get up for a minute and be active.”

How were they able to make the switch to all-vegetarian food? Well, geography and demographics certainly helped. “About 70 percent of the students at P.S. 244 have families with Asian or Indian roots; this veggie-friendly cultural background may have played a role in the smoothness of the transition and the popularity of the program with the school’s parents and students,” continues EcoWatch.

How sad that such a change might not have even been possible in Texas or Wyoming, where eating meat is considered a god-given right. Sad because kids all over America are suffering: they’re overweight, under-exercised and hopped up on all manner of prescription drugs just to keep them in their seats.

Something as simple as teaching kids how and why to eat salad could address all of these problems and more. Just offering a healthy lunch, rather than the cheapest possible option, could actually help improve test scores in a time when those numbers are hitting rock bottom.

Adults like to claim that the kids would never stand for it, but P.S. 244 shows that that’s not the case. Kids are willing to try new things; it’s us grown-ups that are standing in the way.

Image via Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim Venabout a year ago

thanks for sharing.

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing

K H.
K H3 years ago

"Well, geography and demographics certainly helped. “About 70 percent of the students at P.S. 244 have families with Asian or Indian roots; this veggie-friendly cultural background may have played a role in the smoothness of the transition and the popularity of the program with the school’s parents and students,” continues EcoWatch.

That kind of explains everything though, if a lot of the children come from families that are used to vegetarian eating anyway. I would be more impressed if this happened in a more carnivorous community.

Kelsey Valois
Kelsey Valois3 years ago

Awesome!! I wish my school has vegetarian options...

Nicole D.
Nicole D3 years ago

I think that schools should focus on providing healthier options, period. The vegetarian food was likely healthier than the meat "products" served before, but that doesn't mean meat can't be healthy! I'd definitely support a switch to healthier foods in school lunches--I'm in high school currently and the food there is simply appalling.

Karmen Katz
Karmen Katz3 years ago

AWESOME! It's so easy not to eat meat!

Andrew C.
Andrew C3 years ago

Encouraging news

Jan W.
Jan W3 years ago

While I like that many schools are offering vegetarian choices, to have a school cafeteria go all vegan/vegetarian like Rolden J and others have expressed is a bit like making all children in a PUBLIC school be Christian.

Choice is great. ALL meat or ALL vegan is NOT much of a choice.

For some children what they get at school is all the food they get and can't bring lunch from home. Yes, I heard all the - but they can bring it from home - retorts some of you thought ;-)

Schools need to be safe havens for individual and family choices, not propaganda centers for religion, life styles or food choices. Schools need to educate children to respect differences.

Nika VeganLover
Nika VeganLover3 years ago

This is a step in the right direction. People world-wide have been awakening during the last few decades that we not only do not need to eat animals, but actually thrive on a plant-based diet. This trend will spread, thank god, it's about time.

Rainbow W.
.3 years ago

Another bit of propaganda for the growing industry and vegan neurosis.

[]” 100% passing rate in 2011 State ELA and Math Exams. 86% in ELA and 92% in Math scoring 3s and 4s in the 2012 State exams.” “Secured over $30,000 in Grant funding for School Wellness and Garden.”

Looks like their scores went down not up. And that grant money is something to consider. At least other states are banning these diets because they kill kids, to which I can attest.