Officials in the French government have a major beef with the mayor of Lyon.
Lyon Mayor Grégory Doucet, a member of France’s Greens party who took office in July 2020, is being skewered for his decision to remove meat from school cafeterias in the interest of streamlining lunch service and promoting more balanced meals amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gérald Darmanin, France’s Minister of the Interior, called Doucet out on Twitter, claiming the policy was an “unacceptable insult to French farmers and butchers.” He also accused the Greens, overall, of making decisions without regard for the country’s working class with their “scandalous ideology.”
“Many children often only have the canteen to eat meat,” argued Darmanin, a member of President Emmanuel Macron’s La République En Marche! party.
Julien Denormandie, France’s Minister of Agriculture and a fellow member of the En Marche! party, also accused Doucet of “putting ideology on our children’s plates.”
“Let’s just give them what they need to grow well. Meat is one of them,” Denormandie wrote.
Doucet, meanwhile, has fired back at such accusations, claiming that the new policy would not only speed up school lunch service (and promote social distancing by doing so), but also promote more sustainable, local and healthy food in the city’s schools.
He also argued that Gérard Collomb, the city’s previous mayor and a member of the En Marche! party, had “taken exactly the same measure” in the first months of the pandemic, when he was still in office.
“We did not hear you make these comments to Gérard Collomb,” he wrote.
Doucet has previously said that further change is needed to preserve Lyon’s overall culinary heritage, and has argued against the mass importation of meat in favor of promoting local farmers. The city has also put forth a plan to offer more organic and local foods — and to offer schoolchildren “2 to 4 vegetarian meals per week” — by 2022.
Despite meat being off the menu for Lyonnais schoolchildren, fish and eggs will still be available.
Lyon, France’s third-largest city, is often referred to as the capital of French gastronomy, famous for dishes including stews, terrines or casseroles, often made with meats or offal.