All NYC public school cafeterias will offer plant-based options

vegetables faces
CC BY 2.0 Ryan Fung

Institutional change can significantly influence overall demand.

There's been much talk of veganism going mainstream of late. Given the astounding environmental impact of the meat and dairy industry, a drop in demand for animal-based foods would bring welcome respite for our environment. But I'm a well-known skeptic of the power of personal lifestyle change alone. It's not that individual choices don't matter; it's just that they primarily matter as a point of leverage for broader, systemic shifts.

The good news is, that's apparently beginning to happen. As demand for plant-based food goes up, the supply of vegan food rises too. And as supply rises, non-vegans eat more plants too. The latest example of this, reported over at One Green Planet, is news that 1,200 New York City public schools will start offering vegan lunch options in their cafeterias. That's a pretty big deal:

If that wasn’t exciting enough, Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, who recently went vegan and reversed his type 2 diabetes, backs the new menu wholeheartedly. “It is particularly exciting to learn that this is a youth-driven initiative,” Adams told VegNews. Seems like vegan school lunches are taking off! Seven schools within the Los Angeles school district launched a vegan pilot program earlier this year.

From TGI Fridays trialling the much talked about Beyond Burger to the American Medical Association urging hospitals to back plant-based diets, I suspect we'll see a lot more plant-centric meals on menus across the country. Heck, even Sonic is adding a half beef, half mushroom burger to its menu. (Yes, I know it's not vegan but it's a step in the right direction.)

If restaurants and institutions can learn to market these products to everyone—not just the hardcore vegans—we can expect to see the environmental and health benefits of more plant-based eating really begin to pick up speed.

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