The country that gave the world foie gras, coq au vin and le steak frites is being asked to abandon its meat-rich diet in favor of vegetarian options, as France embarks on a historic “cultural shift” that will bring radical changes to all the aspects. of society, said the French Environment Minister.
Meat will be off the menu at least one day a week in schools, while vegetarian options will be standard in public catering services, and chefs will receive training on how to prepare healthy and delicious plant-based meals.
The proposals have sparked uproar and howls of outrage among traditionalists in French cuisine, but have been well received by many young people.
Barbara Pompili, Minister for Ecological Transition, said the country’s comprehensive plan to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions would improve health and well-being, while providing a major boost to the economy.
“Developing a vegetarian menu offering is as much about freedom as it is about ecology,” he said. “Vegetarians should be able to find menus that suit their needs in their dining rooms. This is especially true for young people, among whom the proportion of vegetarians is twice that of the rest of the population. “
The climate and resilience bill, which is now being examined by the upper house of the French parliament, includes: a mandatory vegetarian menu per week in all schools; a daily vegetarian option in all state canteens, including government establishments and universities; training of canteen staff to ensure high quality vegetarian menus; and the stipulation that from 2024, 60% of meat served in collective catering must meet minimum quality requirements, which are likely to favor meat produced in France over imports.
Pompili said the changes would boost French agriculture by emphasizing local food, while reducing carbon.
“[About] 15% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and 91% of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest are linked to livestock ”, he said. “Therefore, developing a vegetarian offering means acting in favor of the climate, against deforestation, while giving eaters more space to buy high-quality, locally produced meat that is better for the environment. Everyone wins. “
That tranquility is key, in a country that only two years ago saw months of violent protests by the “yellow vests”, sparked at the end of 2018 by a dispute over increases in the price of fuel that occurred for environmental reasons, but that many felt unfairly penalized. living in the country.
Pompili acknowledged the mistakes of the past: “I don’t want to leave anyone out of these policies. We will make sure that affected people are helped. This is true for each and every one of the measures we are taking. “
She told The Guardian: “We will only have a successful environmental transition if everyone is on board. There is resistance and setback out there… it is quite difficult to travel in rural areas without cars. Many people in rural areas feel sacrificed. We have to be very attentive to their needs and make sure we listen and support them. “
The government has established a citizens’ assembly to help guide policy and has found that once people have been informed about the science of the climate crisis, they tend to be “really enthusiastic and enthusiastic” about taking action, he said. .
Pompili said his goal was to make it easier for people to lead environmentally friendly lives, by providing greener options and eliminating some of the higher-carbon alternatives. There will be more room for cycling in French cities, buildings across the country will be renovated, and buyers of household appliances, from smartphones to washing machines, will be assured that they can be repaired if they go wrong, rather than having to throw them away.
She said: “We are trying to achieve a cultural change for the French, we want the environment to be a reflection for the people. Every person in France can play a role in protecting the environment. It’s about people’s daily lives. “
France’s economic stimulus package is one of the greenest in the world: of the 100,000 million euros that the government is spending to reactivate the economy after the Covid-19 crisis, at least 30,000 million euros will go to projects with low carbon emissions.
The French are also working internationally, with the UK, to ensure that the vital UN climate talks, called Cop26, to be held later this year in Glasgow, result in the full implementation of the agreement on Paris 2015. “France has a special responsibility,” he said.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism