March 23, 2009
Students Deserve Humane Lunch Options
The United States faces an epidemic of childhood obesity. More than 30 percent of all young people are now overweight or obese.
A recent scientific study found that overweight children as young as 10 years old already show signs of developing heart disease. For children born in 2000, one in three will develop diabetes at some point in his or her life, according to federal health officials.
Vegetarian Food Can Help
Our nation's schools can help fight these alarming health problems by filling lunch lines with fruits, vegetables, vegetarian foods, and healthful nondairy beverages. These low-fat, cholesterol-free options cut the risk of obesity and the danger that students will suffer from heart disease or diabetes later in life.
Many young people want to eat more humanely because they are concerned about how animals are treated on factory farms, but at school students often have trouble finding meatless meals. That could change this year, though.
Congress is revising the Child Nutrition Act, which helps determine what foods are served in school lunches. If Congress helps schools serve more meatless foods and healthful nondairy beverages, all students would benefit from having access to healthier and more humane choices.
What You Can Do
Ask your Congressional Representative to encourage schools to include plant-based foods in their regular meal service when the Child Nutrition Act comes up for reauthorization.
Michael Greger, M.D., is the director of public health and animal agriculture for The Humane Society of the United States.