Eat your vegetables

Market-fresh tomatoes and cucumbers

For several years we used to travel annually from the US to Europe with a group of friends, one of whom was vegetarian. Paula was always gracious at meal times, never wanting to inconvenience others, but we were all surprised at one Parisian waiter’s suggestion as “mashed potatoes” for her entire meal. Contrast that with our experience at a restaurant in the Dordogne where the Michelin-starred chef said that he “would be honored to prepare something for you” (not on the menu) and indeed created a work of art that was the envy of the rest of us at the table. A change in school lunches this year might just make it easier in the future for the next generation if they decide to avoid eating meat.

French school cafeterias have begun a 2-year experiment to offer an all-vegetarian meal once a week to their students. The evaluation will include the impact on student health, food waste, and the cost of meals. Lunch prices are based on the family’s ability to pay and range in price in our area from 1.67€ to 4.97€ per child. The menu below is from earlier this year showing the first of those non-meat choices. It still amazes us, as noted in our blog post from 2018 , that school lunches include a salad starter, the main course, a cheese plate, and dessert of fruit and/or yogurt. I read about one Australian mother who was delighted that her young daughter was learning table manners and how to appreciate food in a civilized manner at school. Her American husband, equally pleased, remembered the offerings at his school where fast-food chains offered pizza, submarine sandwiches, and sloppy joes.

School lunch menu

Although Bill and I aren’t vegetarians, it would be easy (and inexpensive) to do so given our access to the huge variety of fresh fruits and vegetables available to us at the 3-times-a-week open air market. Living in a city surrounded by farms and only 50 miles, as the crow flies, from the Spanish border helps a lot. I still remember an email from 5 years ago from former Carcassonne residents Tracy and Alan who said that they regularly bought 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of fruits and vegetables for 10 euros (12 dollars) at the market. Every Saturday morning we do the same thing leaving us with the happy dilemma of how to eat all of that before it’s time to return to the market the following week. 

The most recent survey I could find regarding the number of vegetarians was from 2015 when the poll said that 3.4 percent of Americans didn’t eat meat while in France it was 3.0 percent. If you want to investigate the trend further, I’ll include a link below to the Vegetarian Association of France.

L’Association Végétarienne de France: