NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced earlier this week that all public schools in the city will have “Meatless Mondays” starting in the 2019-2020 school year. This means that all breakfast or lunch meals served at the schools every Monday will only feature vegetarian options.

“Cutting back on meat a little will improve New Yorkers’ health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” de Blasio said. “We’re expanding Meatless Mondays to all public schools to keep our lunch and planet green for generations to come.”

Meatless Mondays was tried in 2018 in 15 Brooklyn schools. An estimated 1.1 million students will fall under this program. According to a press release by the Mayor’s office the expansion will be cost-neutral to the city budget. School officials will talk with students to get qualitative feedback before the menu for following year is finalized.

After announcing the decision, the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) sent de Blasio a letter urging him to reverse his decision of “Meatless Mondays.”

“The Meatless Monday policy ignores a simple fact — meat and poultry products are excellent and affordable sources of complete protein, vitamins, and minerals that students enjoy in school cafeterias across the country,” Julie Anna Potts, NAMI president and CEO said in the letter. “The science is indisputable: Meat is exceptionally nutrient-dense, with essential vitamins and minerals, and it is a source of complete proteins that cannot be matched by plant-based diets.”