Sunday, August 4, 2013

Vegetarianism: "Outlawed" in France?

Hi everyone! Sorry for being mysteriously missing from my blog last week-- I had no idea what to write about. However, I've definitely got some things to write about in the next few weeks, as you will see...

In France, there is a law which states that school cafeterias MUST serve animal products to their students. The law, effective as of 2011/2012, was made to comply with the French Rural Code and the fisheries, as well as the code of public health. Here is a translated version of part of the law, from (I've bolded part of the text to highlight the important part):

"The nutritional quality catering

  "Art. D. 230-25. - To achieve the goal of nutritionally balanced meals served by school food services are required, pursuant to Article L. 230-5 of the Rural Code and marine fisheries:
"- Four or five dishes each lunch or dinner, which necessarily includes a filling main course, and a dairy product;
"- Compliance with the minimum requirements of variety of dishes;
"- The provision of suitably sized portions;
"- The definition of rules adapted to the service of water, bread, salt and sauces.
"A joint order of the Minister of Defence, Ministers overseas and local government, health, food, consumption and Education requirements specify the nature of the diversity dishes served on the service of water, bread, salt and sauces as well as the size of food portions.
  "They are required to identify clearly on menus, seasonal ingredients in the composition of the meal.
" (See the original, untranslated version at

According to the European Vegetarian Union, meat and fish will have to be served at "a certain minimum frequency". Similar laws are being proposed for other public spaces in France-- hospitals, prisons, kindergartens, and retirement homes. And they all will be given milk and some meat with their food, whether they want it or not. They won't actually have to consume it-- they could just leave it on their plate, or, if the food is being served as a buffet, avoid it altogether-- but still, think of all the cows who would have to be exploited and animals who would be killed just to give people these "foods"!
This could be a problem for vegan kids, who will not be able to get balanced meals from their school cafeteria. If they're given a meal of meat, milk, potatoes, and vegetables, for instance, they could only eat the potatoes and vegetables. They won't be able to get the healthy plant protein necessary for good health on a vegan diet, because it wouldn't be provided! Some of kids and teenagers might be able to bring in a lunchbag or go home for lunch, but I can only imagine that this would make life difficult for them. (It would be great to hear about this from an actual student living in France to get a better picture of what it's actually like over there.)

According to an article in The Guardian,
A law was passed on 3 October which obliges school canteens feeding more than 80 children to adhere to minimum nutritional requirements, setting in stone how much protein, iron, calcium and fresh fruit schoolchildren should be given. 
Schools now have to provide meals which include a protein element with accompaniment, such as rice or vegetables, a dairy product (for example cheese or yoghurt) and either a starter or a pudding. The protein can be cheese but a dairy product is also obligatory as a separate element.
So while the new rules do not explicitly ban vegetarian meals, Brigitte Gothière of the vegetarian association L214 says they make it clear that the state believes all sources of protein should come from animal, not vegetable, products. On a 20-meal cycle, a minimum of four meals must include "quality meat" and four "quality fish," and on the other days, egg, cheese or "abats" (offal) should be the main dish. Isabelle Dudouet-Bercegeay, president of the Association Végétarienne de France, says: "It's a case of 'If you don't want your child to eat meat, don't use the canteen.'"
For vegan prisoners and hospital inpatients, who have very little freedoms already due to their circumstances, not getting a vegan meal plan could almost totally eliminate the viability of a vegan diet during their inprisonment or hospital stay. The same goes for residents of retirement homes. One can only hope that this law does not extend to these latter places!
Although there is no law that states that people aren't allowed to live an animal-rights-centred lifestyle (so, contrary to the title of this post, vegetarianism isn't technically "outlawed" in France), the above law could definitely make it difficult for people to follow their values on a daily basis.
A great analysis of the law, as well as a more thorough translated version, can be found at
From what I'm reading on the Internet, vegetarianism is hard enough in France as it is, simply due to the meat-eating culture. If you live in France and would like to go vegan, or if you want to visit France, please visit
Au revoir pour maintenant, mes amis!

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