Require USDA to facilitate healthful plant-based (vegan) school lunch options to promote public health and environmental quality.
Under the mandate from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National School Lunch Program, school cafeterias routinely serve highly processed meals laden with saturated fat, cholesterol, hormones, and salt. Common entrees include chicken nuggets, pizza, cheeseburgers, and hot dogs. This diet flouts U.S. Dietary Guidelines and promotes obesity, diabetes, hypertension, other chronic conditions, and food poisoning.
Consider the following:
â€¢ Fewer than 2% of children eat in accordance with the U.S. Dietary Guidelines on a given day.
â€¢ School lunches contain 33% of calories from fat, including 12% from saturated fat, while U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend 30% and 10%, respectively.
â€¢ More than 30% of children are overweight or obese.
â€¢ 25% of children ages 5 to 10 suffer from high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, or other chronic conditions.
A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains is largely free of these problems and essential to good health. It supplies nearly all essential nutrients, contains little fat, fewer pesticides, and no cholesterol, hormones, antibiotics, or heavy metals. It also provides special nutrients that reduce the risk of cancer. It is conducive to more energy and improved academic performance.
A healthy diet for children is a critical indicator of future health, because children's bodies are still developing, because their dietary choices are still being formed, and because their poor eating habits become lifelong addictions.
In addition to its obvious health benefits, a plant-based diet offers the only long-term solution to the world hunger epidemic. It avoids the massive deforestation, water pollution, and global warming caused by the meat and dairy industries. Last, but not least, it spares billions of cows, pigs, and other innocent sentient animals from the atrocities of factory farms and slaughterhouses.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has the ability and the obligation to provide a wholesome food supply for our nation, starting with our children. It should use the school lunch and other national feeding programs to improve the nation's health, rather than to susidize the meat and dairy agribusiness.