The Soda Ban & Vegetarian School Lunches

by Arabella Watters

Native Foods Cafe


I don’t really have a notable
problem with soda, but that’s probably because I didn’t grow up drinking it.
Even before half of my family pledged their veganism, my parents were the kind
of health freaks that imposed rules on us like: only whole wheat bread, no
chips, no soda, no cereal with added sugar. We ate oatmeal for breakfast nearly
every day with a weird undying enthusiasm. I remember freaking out when we got
to have Lucky Charms when we went skiing one winter. People always laugh when I
tell them this, but my deprivation of normal kid food (read: processed) wasn’t
really a problem because I never knew anything different. I liked what I ate.
Although peanut butter and honey on whole wheat toast wrapped in silver foil
day in and day out got a little bit repetitive. Same with the carrots and
hummus. Sorry Mom, the secrets out.


Anyways I digress from my point,
which was to say that, New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposition to ban
big (no larger than 16 oz.) sodas last summer didn’t get me up and arms the way
that it did for a lot of people. Incensed might be the right way to describe
it. In fact, I really support the idea. Not all of Coke’s products are even
vegan. Lilt, Kia, Schweppes, and Five Alive all have trace amounts of fish
gelatin to stabilize the beta-carotene color in the drinks. Aside from the fact
that freaks me out just a little bit, I thought the soda ban was a much needed
regulatory wake up call.

0724-new-york-soda-ban_full_600Native Foods Cafe vegan restaurant uses this photo courtesy of CS Monitor: Andrew Burton/Reuters

The latest in Mayor Bloomberg’s
health overhaul for the city is an announcement that a school in Flushing,
Queens has gone vegetarian.  Public
School 244 is the first in the nation to do so, serving only vegetarian meals
for breakfast and lunch. The school switched out chicken and other meats for
tofu, black beans, falafel and other vegetarian protein options.

130501-vegetarian-meal-hmed-1030a.380Native Foods Cafe vegan restaurant uses this image courtesy of US News: Lalita Kovvuri / NYC Department of Education

The New York Daily News reported that there was even an option of
roasted tofu with cacciatore sauce, whole grain pasta, and zucchini. One, that
sounds better than a lot of the food that I eat in my dining hall every day,
and two I think its awesome that Mayor Bloomberg is incorporating vegetarianism
into his overall plan to improve the health of the city. PS 244 is also in a
historically diverse, both ethnically and socioeconomically, neighborhood. PS
244 will be able to both educate and allow access to a vegetarian lifestyle to
a whole new generation and I think that is truly valuable.


Native Foods Cafe, vegan, vegan food, vegan restaurant, nys soda ban, vegetarian school lunch

One thought on “The Soda Ban & Vegetarian School Lunches

  1. Christian Alberto Ledesma May 21, 2013 / 7:55 am

    I’m a teacher and Director of Health and Nutrition Programs at PS244. I wanted to clarify something, the overhaul in our school lunch was not a Bloomberg initiative. Although he has placed a heavy emphasis on wellness in the city, our change to a plant-based lunch came from our unique school community, with the help of the NY Coalition for Healthy School Food.
    I want to make sure that everyone knows that this started at the ground level and wasn’t imposed from above. Our kids were bought-in to it, were able to give feedback on the food as it rolled out, and the entire process took five years.
    Thank you for highlighting us though. I think it’s important that people know that healthy changes can be made at the school level.


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