Part of the Food Policy Snapshot Series
Population: 7.6 million (CityPopulation, 2010 Census)
The state of Veracruz’s Ministry of Education has signed the “Conscious Monday” agreement in collaboration with Come Consciente (Eat Consciously) and Mercy for Animals. The program provides support to schools to replace at least 20 percent of animal products on their menus with plant-based ingredients. The program also, as the name suggests, recommends serving meals containing no animal products on Mondays.
Progress to date:
The agreement was signed on March 16, 2018, and the program went into effect in April.
Food policy category:
Diet & Nutrition
The program is intended to improve the nutritional quality of meals served in schools, with the goal of reducing obesity and malnutrition. Additionally, it is expected to provide economic and environmental benefits, as animal products are, in general, more costly and environmentally harmful than fruit and vegetables.
How it works:
The Ministry of Education began by creating a recipe book that emphasizes the use of fruits and vegetables. The state’s “Healthy Lifestyles” program surveyed parents from across the state to identify popular and culturally appropriate foods across communities. Since Veracruz is Mexico’s second-largest state and contains a significant amount of cultural variety, personalized plant-based recipes were created to serve each region with healthy and seasonal ingredients. The Veracruz Academy of Indigenous Languages is currently working to translate the recipe book into various indigenous languages.
By using the recipes provided by the state government, schools are expected to replace 20 percent of the animal products served in their cafeterias with plant-based ingredients. Schools will also serve meals containing no animal products on Mondays, totaling around 925,000 vegan meals per year.
Why it is important:
According to a study published in the Global Health Action journal, Mexico has one of the highest rates of childhood obesity in the world, with 34 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 19 considered either overweight or obese. The study cites the poor nutritional quality of public school lunches as one of several causes and notes that healthy food options and traditional foods have largely been replaced by processed foods, which are high in fat, salt, and sugar.
A review of the scientific literature on malnutrition and cognitive development from the University of Western Australia shows that micronutrients may play important roles in children’s intellectual development. A diverse diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is most likely to provide all of the micronutrients necessary for healthy childhood development.
In addition, a report from the Federal Research Institute of Nutrition and Food in Germany explores the anti-inflammatory effects of plant-based diets and concludes that diets consisting mostly of foods derived from plants can reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease and some cancers.
The Veracruz Ministry of Education is responsible for implementing and evaluating the program.
Point of Contact:
Veracruz Ministry of Education
+52 (228) 841 7700
The program was inspired by Meatless Monday, which is currently active in 44 countries around the world. Some school districts have gone even further, with four cities in Brazil recently pledging to achieve 100 percent plant-based school meals by the end of 2019.