Schools in Portland, Maine will replace their current vegetarian menu with vegan options, following student complaints about the alternative food options.
The complaints came from Kawther Ajeel and Minka Clayton, both vegetarians and fifth-graders at Portland’s East End Community School, Portland Press Herald reported.
The young ladies said the lunches were too heavy in meat and the daily vegetarian options were not filling.
Ajeel and Clayton wrote a letter to Jane McLucas, Portland Public School’s food service director, who began creating a new meat-free, replacement menu, all of which will be vegan.
“I think it’s good,” said Ajeel. “It sounds better. Last week I didn’t eat any of the lunches because they had a lot of chicken and beef.”
Portland Public Schools will start out serving the new vegan options to elementary students to determine which meals are most popular, before a rolling the menu out to middle and high school students.
Menu options will include Mediterranean hummus pizza, orange tofu, carrot hot dogs, Kung Pao tofu, as well as burritos and tacos with beans and rice, instead of beef.
“We’re trying to search out a vegan burger at the moment,” McLucas said. “The pasta and vegetarian bean chili is a go and we’ll definitely do the lentils on Thursday. We might do a lentil sloppy Joe or the southwestern lentils.”
Portland is just the latest in a growing number of school districts adding plant-based food due to increasing demand, as well as environmental impact animal agriculture has on the planet.
Last month, New York City, which had been testing out plant-based options this school year, announced that it would only serve students vegetarian meals on Mondays for health as well as environmental reasons.
In California, which already serves vegan lunches in a number of school districts, legislation has been introduced that would incentivize schools to offer vegan meals to students by giving them additional state funding.
Along with Portland Public Schools, other Maine districts like Falmouth, Westbrook and Kittery will be implementing or increasing vegan options.
Portland schools will start serving vegan meals in September.