New York City Council Bans Processed Meats From Public Schools

CC BY 2.0. agriculturede

No more pepperoni, salami, bacon, or ham will be offered on school menus.

New York City council is taking students' health seriously. Earlier this year, mayor Bill de Blasio announced the introduction of Meatless Mondays, when all meals served in 1,700 schools would be vegetarian in an effort to improve nutrition and curb emissions. Now, the city has gone one step further and passed a law banning processed meats from schools, although the start date has yet to be determined.

This ban, also known as Resolution 238 or 'Ban the Baloney', was introduced last spring by councilman Fernando Cabrera of the Bronx and supported by Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams. (Both men eat a plant-based diet.) The resolution eliminates processed meats such as salami, bacon, pepperoni, ham, hot dogs, and sausages, based on a 2015 World Health Organization report that labeled these products as Group 1 carcinogens, increasing the risk of diabetes, multiple cancers, and respiratory illnesses.

In Adams' words, quoted in VegNews:

"We cannot continue feeding our children substances that are scientifically proven to increase their chances of cancer later in life. Chicken nuggets and sloppy joes are in the same class of substances as cigarettes. We know that we would never give our children cigarettes to smoke, so there’s absolutely no reason why we should continue poisoning our children’s health with processed foods."

This announcement comes one day after a controversial study has riled the nation by saying that red meat and processed meats aren't as unhealthy as we've been told for years. The science is being hotly disputed, but as I see it, the outcome doesn't even matter because nutrition is only one part of this debate. We know that meat production is bad for the environment and its consumption must be curbed if we hope to stave off further global warming.

As author Jonathan Safran Foer put it in a recent interview with Huffington Post,

"Eating meat is not a sin. It’s not an evil thing to do, but right now it has an aspect of shoplifting to it. The [meat] industry is stealing from us and the planet and we’re not aware of it. Someone does have to pay for the environmental clean-up of the planet and it’s not us at the cash register and it’s not them [the meat industry]. It’s our grandkids."

On that note, well done, New York City. You've set the bar high and we can only hope other city councils follow suit.