BAHIA, Brazil—Humane Society International in Brazil has teamed up with four cities in the northeastern state of Bahia—Serrinha, Barroca, Teofilandia and Biritinga—and the local Public Prosecutor Office, to transition all of the meals served at its public school cafeterias to 100 percent plant-based by the end of 2019, reducing meat, dairy and egg consumption by 25 percent per semester. This marks the first time in history that any school districts have committed to having exclusively plant-based cafeterias. The change will impact over 23 million meals a year.
The launch of the project, called “Escola Sustentável (Sustainable School),” took place on Monday, March 19th, and was followed by four days of plant-based culinary trainings for the cities’ school cooks, led by HSI’s Chef André Vieland. Chef André taught cooks how to prepare cost-effective, nutritious recipes, using accessible local ingredients. Escola Sustentável’s mission is to improve student health, reduce the cities’ environmental footprint (especially water consumption), and empower local farmers who will be able to supply the school districts with plant-based foods. Leticia Baird, Brazilian Public Prosecutor for the Environment in the State of Bahia, who led the creation of this program, stated: “Providing our school districts with plant-based meals will help save environmental and public financial resources, allow for a future of healthy adults, and build a fair world for the animals.”
Sandra Lopes, food policy manager for HSI in Brazil, stated: “We applaud the cities of Serrinha, Barroca, Teofilandia, and Biritinga for becoming the world’s first school districts to commit to going 100 percent plant-based. It’s an honor to have worked with city authorities, nutritionists and school cooks on the adoption and implementation of this initiative, and we’re excited to continue working closely with them to ensure the success of this program.”
A growing number of institutions in Brazil, including the Brazilian Ministry of Health and University of São Paulo’s School of Public Health, are recognizing that a reduction in meat consumption is necessary to help the environment and human health. In its 2014 Dietary Guidelines, the Brazilian Ministry of Health stated: “Opting to consume various types of plant-based foods and a limited consumption of animal products indirectly results in a food system that is more just and less stressful on the environment, animals and biodiversity in general.”
HSI promotes humane eating—or the 3 R’s: “reducing” or “replacing” consumption of animal products, and “refining” our diets by choosing products from sources that adhere to higher animal welfare standards.
- The São Paulo city school district, Brazil’s largest school district, has participated in Meatless Monday since 2009, serving more than half a million plant-based meals every two weeks.
- According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, animal agriculture is one of the greatest contributors to the most serious environmental issues, like global warming, and is a major consumer of scarce water resources.
- Choosing plant-based foods helps human health. Many of the chronic diseases plaguing the world, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, can be prevented, treated and, in some cases, even reversed with a plant-based diet.
- According to the Brazilian Ministry of Health, Brazil is currently facing a new obesity and overweight epidemic, which is affecting over half of the population, including children. One in three Brazilian children between the ages of 5 and 9 is obese or overweight and face health risks as a result.
- Shifting to plant-based foods reduces animal suffering. Tens of millions of animals in food production in Brazil, like egg-laying hens and breeding sows, are intensively confined and spend their whole lives in cages so small they can barely even move.
Media Contact: Sandra Lopes, email@example.com, 11 9 8145-0764