Outrage and joy as France abandons meat addiction in climate bill

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Country that gave the world foie gras, coq au vin and steak frites is urged to abandon its meat-rich diet in favor of vegetarian options, as France engages in historic ‘culture change’ which will bring radical changes in all respects. of the company, said the French Minister of the Environment.

Meat will be taken off the menu at least one day a week in schools, while vegetarian options will be the norm in public catering, and chefs will be trained in how to prepare healthy and tasty plant-based meals.

The proposals sparked an uproar and howls of indignation among traditionalists of French cuisine, but were well received by many young people.

Barbara Pompili, Minister of Ecological Transition, said the country’s broad plan to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions would improve health and well-being, while also providing a big boost to the economy.

“Developing a vegetarian menu is as much a question of freedom as of ecology,” she said. “Vegetarians must be able to find menus adapted to their needs in their canteens. This is particularly true for young people, among whom the proportion of vegetarians is twice as high as the rest of the population.

The climate and resilience bill, currently being examined by the upper house of the French parliament, includes: a compulsory vegetarian menu per week in all schools; a daily vegetarian choice in all state canteens, including public establishments and universities; training of canteen staff to ensure quality vegetarian menus; and the stipulation that from 2024, 60% of the meats served in collective catering must meet minimum quality requirements, likely to favor meats produced in France over imports.

Pompili said the changes would boost French agriculture by focusing on local food, while reducing carbon.

« [About] 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions and 91% of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest are linked to livestock, ”she said. “Thus, developing a vegetarian offer means acting for the climate, against deforestation, while leaving more room for canteens to buy quality meat, produced locally and better for the environment. Everybody wins. “

This insurance is essential, in a country which, barely two years ago, experienced months of violent “yellow vests” demonstrations, triggered at the end of 2018 by a dispute over the rise in fuel prices caused for environmental reasons but many of whom felt unfairly penalized. living in the countryside.

Pompili acknowledged the mistakes of the past: “I don’t want to exclude anyone from these policies. We will ensure that those affected are helped. This is true for all the actions we take. “

She told the Guardian: “We will only have a successful environmental transition if everyone is on board. There is resistance and repression there… it is quite difficult to get around rural areas without a car. Many people in rural areas feel sacrificed. We have to be very attentive to their needs and make sure we listen to them and support them.

The government has set up a citizens’ assembly to help guide policy and has found that once people have been educated on the science of the climate crisis, they tend to be “really keen and enthusiastic” about it. idea to act, she said.

Pompili said his goal was to empower people to lead environmentally friendly lives, by providing greener options and removing some of the more carbon-rich alternatives. There will be more room for bicycles in French cities, buildings will be renovated across the country and buyers of devices, from smartphones to washing machines, will have the guarantee that they can be repaired in the event of a problem, instead of having to throw them away.

She said: “We are trying to bring about a culture change for the French – we want the environment to be a reflex for people. Every person in France can play a role in protecting the environment. It is about the daily life of people.

France’s economic recovery plan is one of the greenest in the world: of the 100 billion euros that the government is spending to revive the economy after the Covid-19 shock, at least 30 billion euros will go to low carbon projects.

The French are also working internationally, with the UK, to ensure that the vital UN climate talks, called Cop26, which will be held later this year in Glasgow, result in full implementation. of the 2015 Paris Agreement. “France has a special responsibility,” she said.

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