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A New York City elementary school cafeteria is one of the first in the nation to go meatless.

Students at P.S. 244 , the Active Learning Elementary School, are being treated to eclectic fare, including black bean and cheese quesadillas, falafel and tofu in an Asian sesame sauce.

"It's been a really great response from the kids, but they also understand it's about what is the healthiest option for them," principal Bob Groff told ABCNews.com. "Because we teach them throughout our curriculum to make healthy choices, they understand what is happening and believe in what we're doing too."

When the school opened in 2008, they started serving vegetarian meals three days a week. The campus became a vegetarian test kitchen for the city, Groff said.

"We then started to try out recipes with small groups of students, see what they liked, see what they didn't like," he said.

The recipes were a hit, Groff said, prompting the school to expand its meat-free meals to four days a week and then adopting a 100 percent vegetarian kitchen in January.

"The big thing I would like people to know is, this isn't just about a vegetarian menu," Groff said. "It's about living a healthy lifestyle and educating students on what options are out there."

All meals have to adhere to USDA standards, he said, making sure students get plenty of nutrients, including protein, for their growing bodies.

That means nutrient-dense foods such as chickpeas, kidney beans and tofu.

If the herbivore-friendly grub doesn't suit students, Groff said they're always welcome to pack their lunch, including meat.

The school operates on an application and lottery system, meaning it's not zoned to a particular neighborhood. It serves 400 students from pre-kindergarten through grade three.

source

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That's kind of avoiding the issue instead of tackling it. How about create healthier foods without the loss of meat products

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Not really 'veggie' if you include cheese and dairy products.

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Not really 'veggie' if you include cheese and dairy products.

Losing the dairy is vegan, not veggie.

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I knew this was somewhere in either New York or California the second I read the title.

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I'd rather have my kids fed religion over this useless fad diet that is really unhealthy

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^ Why is it 'unhealthy' ?

I've lived long periods just fine, without meats, dairy.

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If the herbivore-friendly grub doesn't suit students, Groff said they're always welcome to pack their lunch, including meat.

Glad they included that option because I hate veggie food. I would take my lunch.

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That's kind of avoiding the issue instead of tackling it. How about create healthier foods without the loss of meat products

Exactly.

The processed garbage, artifical ingredients, pesticides and GM foods (and animal feed) are the problems in our (America's) food system, not meat.

I keep trying to educate people on this, but it's unfortunately an endless (and sometimes rage inducing) battle. Good thing the publicity of this stuff keeps growing every month.

Speaking about meat: It's is an essential part of our diet; we are not herbivores. While being vegetarian can benefit people in certain ways (and protect the environment with less animal extinctions and habitat destruction through excessive hunting), it's not what we were designed for, and can actually cause harm in the long run.

I've been waiting for nearly a decade for this country to get back on track. Can only wonder how much longer we have to wait..

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I've been waiting for nearly a decade for this country to get back on track. Can only wonder how much longer we have to wait..

You and I may not live long enough.

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I'd rather have my kids fed religion over this useless fad diet that is really unhealthy

WTF? Why is vegetarian diet is a "useless fad"?

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I'd rather have my kids fed religion over this useless fad diet that is really unhealthy

The earliest records of (lacto) vegetarianism come from ancient India and ancient Greece in the 5th century BCE.[17]

Uh huh. Fad. Right.

I don't know why anyone would think increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables in one's diet would be "really unhealthy". Totally looking forward to see how this statement is substantiated.

Speaking about meat: It's is an essential part of our diet; we are not herbivores. While being vegetarian can benefit people in certain ways (and protect the environment with less animal extinctions and habitat destruction through excessive hunting), it's not what we were designed for, and can actually cause harm in the long run.

Completely false. A properly prepared vegetarian diet is entirely healthy and safe.

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Completely false. A properly prepared vegetarian diet is entirely healthy and safe.

We're not living in old times.

Most food is so drastically different from how it was when it was first cultivated. If not the food, then the soil, the air and the water. Nothing is 'pure' anymore, as much as we wish it was.

Absolution from meat can harm us. Note I said can here and earlier. Not everyone is affected in the same ways. But, speaking from personal experience, the people who I know that are vegetarian suffer from one problem or another that none of the meat eaters I know have. Mayhap they don't have a proper vegetarian diet, but with the way life is in present time (time and finance constraints, lack of access to a variety of raw food, if access to any at all), it's a wonder anyone can have a proper diet, even health advocates like myself. :(

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We're not living in old times.

Most food is so drastically different from how it was when it was first cultivated. If not the food, then the soil, the air and the water. Nothing is 'pure' anymore, as much as we wish it was.

Absolution from meat can harm us. Note I said can here and earlier. Not everyone is affected in the same ways. But, speaking from personal experience, the people who I know that are vegetarian suffer from one problem or another that none of the meat eaters I know have. Mayhap they don't have a proper vegetarian diet, but with the way life is in present time (time and finance constraints, lack of access to a variety of raw food, if access to any at all), it's a wonder anyone can have a proper diet, even health advocates like myself. :(

None of which corroborates your earlier statement that vegetarian diets "cause harm in the long run". You're right that fresh produce is expensive, which makes vegetarianism prohibitive for a lot of people and if you don't prepare your vegetarian diet properly, making sure you have a diverse range of food to get all your nutritional requirements, that it can be unhealthy, but if you remove those 2 issues vegetarianism is completely safe and a great way to improve general health.

I'd probably even go as far as saying a vegetarian diet practised poorly would be better for people's health than the garbage people cram in their face from fast-food joints. A lot of people suffer from a lack of necessary nutrients provided by fast and processed food. At least a crappy veg. diet would give people some nutrients.

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.... a vegetarian diet is normally more fattening and has less nutrition especially if you do cut out on the fatty products..

a balanced diet includes meat (fish included) and yes I can say this I spent 3 years studying biology nutrition was one of my subjects... you live a much healthier life with meat included... I know tons of vegetarians their lives are just them getting sick every other week... an omnivore can survive on a vegetarian diet but will be lacking performance wise

pushing vegetarianism is just as bad as pushing a religion in my books... vegetarian foods ARE NOT the healthiest option, this is why the education system sucks, because they are getting taught by idiots

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I hope they have other proteins besides Soy. Soy is bad for thyroids. if you have no thyroids you cant have it up to 4 hours after taking your hormone pill. My doctor told me try to avoid it completely. For kids with thyroid problems it could be bad for them.

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I'd probably have something to say if it happened to a school that my kids attended. I'm all for a vegetarian option, equal rights and what not, but completely removing meat? That's just as bad as not including a vegetarian option in the first place in my mind, and I bet there would be many people with something to say if that were the case.

And they're making the point that it is supposed to be informing children that there are healthy options out there? Why don't they do what Jamie Oliver was trying, and instead of swinging from one extreme (fatty foods) to another (complete vegetarian diet) why don't they try educating children on a balanced diet? Have some meat, have some veg, don't over do the fried foods and you'll be fine.

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That's kind of avoiding the issue instead of tackling it. How about create healthier foods without the loss of meat products

^^^This. I just wish this stupid fad would just die. As humans we can not sustain living off just that vegetable crap. Those of you who do live like this I feel sorry for you for giving up meat. You are making it harder on your body than it needs to be.

I know if these were my kids I would pull my kids from that school completely.

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A vegetarian menu doesn't automatically qualify as a healthy diet. Vegetarianism is hard work if you want to remain healthy and ensure you get a good balance of nutrition that's suitable for you and your lifestyle.

They should have instead provided a decent selection of various meat and fish proteins which alternate throughout the week and taught the children how to eat healthier that way!

This sounds more like cost cutting... quality meat is expensive.

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^^^This. I just wish this stupid fad would just die. As humans we can not sustain living off just that vegetable crap. Those of you who do live like this I feel sorry for you for giving up meat. You are making it harder on your body than it needs to be.

As has already been covered, it's not a fad. And humans are able to live off just vegetables, providing they find vegetarian replacements for the nutrients that meat would provide.

With that said, I don't think I've ever chosen a vegetarian option over an option that included meat.

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Because we teach them throughout our curriculum to make healthy choices

Then forced them into a vegetarian diet. Ridiculous!

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We're not living in old times.

Most food is so drastically different from how it was when it was first cultivated. If not the food, then the soil, the air and the water. Nothing is 'pure' anymore, as much as we wish it was.

Absolution from meat can harm us. Note I said can here and earlier. Not everyone is affected in the same ways. But, speaking from personal experience, the people who I know that are vegetarian suffer from one problem or another that none of the meat eaters I know have. Mayhap they don't have a proper vegetarian diet, but with the way life is in present time (time and finance constraints, lack of access to a variety of raw food, if access to any at all), it's a wonder anyone can have a proper diet, even health advocates like myself. :(

.... a vegetarian diet is normally more fattening and has less nutrition especially if you do cut out on the fatty products..

a balanced diet includes meat (fish included) and yes I can say this I spent 3 years studying biology nutrition was one of my subjects... you live a much healthier life with meat included... I know tons of vegetarians their lives are just them getting sick every other week... an omnivore can survive on a vegetarian diet but will be lacking performance wise

pushing vegetarianism is just as bad as pushing a religion in my books... vegetarian foods ARE NOT the healthiest option, this is why the education system sucks, because they are getting taught by idiots

The amount of ignorance in these two posts is mind numbing. You both should visit India some time and visit people who have never eaten meat in their life and are perfectly healthy and in most cases have lived long, healthy life.

I was raised as a vegetarian and although I am not one anymore - my digestive system is tuned more towards vegetarian food. I therefore prefer vegetarian food when I have a choice.

A good balanced vegetarian diet with grains, lentils, fruits, vegetables and dairy products is equally good for your body as any balanced diet.

Don't blame lifestyles on religion. Our diets have historically developed based on the region we live in. For example, Indian food is usually hot/spicy because of the warmer climate compared to say USA.

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Completely false. A properly prepared vegetarian diet is entirely healthy and safe.

Would be a valid point if we were not talking about school cafeteria school. They can't make mashed potatoes without making it extremely unhealthy.

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Would be a valid point if we were not talking about school cafeteria school. They can't make mashed potatoes without making it extremely unhealthy.

That argument works both ways. I mean chicken nuggets is not exactly food (at least the cheap ones). :/

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Sounds awesome to me. I'd eat more vegetarian meals but still in so many places, a vegetarian option is a total after thought - assuming there's even something on the menu at all. I'm not vegetarian and have no interest in becoming one, but I have a few vegetarian friends and have been out for a few meals with them so it gives me a bit of insight (and sympathy!) at the complete ignorance still on display in many restaurants.

I welcome initiatives like this, personally.

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