NYC public schools hold first Vegan Friday


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Jose Pacheco

With a new mayor comes a new menu as the nation’s largest school system will be going vegan with their latest initiative for school lunches.

The first “Vegan Friday” was held on Feb. 4 in New York City and has already been met with some criticism from students across various school districts.

The new program, which is set to serve plant-based meals every Friday for the rest of academic year, will do away with foods like mac and cheese, pizza, chicken and other “nonvegan” foods and replace them with healthier meals such as black bean rice bowls, plant-based meat tacos, seasoned broccoli salad and roasted cauliflower, among other vegan dishes.

But students do not need to worry about the traditional favorites, such as mac and cheese and crispy chicken will still be available and served, only now with the exceptions of every Monday and Friday given that the New York City Department of Education had already implemented a similar program called “ Meatless Mondays” under former Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The new program is in line with Mayor Eric Adams’ emphasis on health and fitness, as he has attributed his improved health and reversed Type 2 diabetes prognosis to what he has occasionally coined a “fully vegan” diet that he adopted after nearly suffering vision loss and nerve damage on his hands and feet.

Adams now wants to share the healthy lifestyle that helped him improve his health with students across New York City and says this initiative will improve the city’s overall health.

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

However, many students have not met the initiative with the same enthusiasm as Adams. The vegan school lunches offered on Friday weren’t the most appetizing for some students. Students had to choose between black beans, tomato and corn or plant-based burritos for the first Vegan Friday across the city’s schools.

“I was thinking – oh, well it’s a burrito,” sixth grader Katie Wilkins said to ABC 7 NY. “It was a very interesting burrito that was smooshed down kinda compressed a little.”

Some students noticed that the meals weren’t necessarily vegan as advertised, with cheese and milk still included in the menu.

While it may not be the most appetizing switch for all students, the Vegan Friday initiative will remain in place. Schools will also provide students with vegetarian options upon request during regular school weekdays.