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New York City school cafeterias to go completely vegan on Fridays

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NEW YORK CITY – New York City public school cafeterias will offer a fully-vegan menu on Fridays as part of a new healthy eating initiative from Mayor Eric Adams.

Starting this week, foods containing any animal products — from macaroni and cheese to pizza — will be off of Friday’s menu.

Adams, who is vegan himself, told WABC-TV, “Plant-based options in schools means healthy eating and healthy living, and improving the quality of life for thousands of New York City students.”

“Plant-based meals are delicious and nutritious, which is why I previously called for vegetarian and vegan options in schools. I’m thrilled to see that all students will now have access to healthy foods that will prevent debilitating health conditions,” Adams said.

City school cafeterias were already completely meatless on Mondays and Fridays.

“They asked for this,” Adams said. “They are tired of the food that they are being fed in their schools, and they want healthy options.”

Milk, which is required to be served under federal USDA guidelines, will still be offered. Students will reportedly continue to have non-vegan food options available to them on Fridays, as well.

WABC-TV reports that the union representing the 9,000 food workers in city schools agree, but leaders think it would work even better with some nutritional education served on the side.

“So if a student learns, you know, I’m eating carrots is good for my eyes, more students may eat carrots, right?” Food Workers District Council 37 Local 372 Executive Vice President Donald Nesbit said.

New York City officials say “Vegan Fridays” emphasize the importance of healthy and nutritious eating. Vegan options are currently offered in all schools daily, such as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or hummus and pretzels.

“The DOE [Department of Education] is committed to the health and wellbeing of every child, and having a consistent, nourishing and filling meal each day is essential in ensuring students can succeed both inside and outside the classroom,” Department of Education Associate Press Secretary Jenna Lyle said. “Following on the success of Meatless Monday and Fridays, we are excited to be expanding access to healthy and nutritious food options for NYC students with the phasing in of a vegan focused menu on Fridays. Non-vegan menu items will be available upon request.”

Officials also say all products on the menus, including vegan options, have been taste-tested and approved in small groups of students themselves.

“Variety is the spice of life, and I think this [is] another way to introduce new foods,” dietician and Nutrition Coordinator at Northwell Health Stephanie DiFiglia-Peck said.

This Friday’s vegan menu includes veggie tacos served with crispy or soft tortillas and a salsa cup, seasoned broccoli, and a carrot and lemon salad, according to the DOE website.

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