Last week, Veracruz—the second-largest state in Mexico—announced it would serve vegan meals every Monday, totaling 925,000 vegan meals each year. The announcement came after government officials signed a collaboration agreement with Mercy For Animals’ Latin American food policy program, Come Consciente (Conscious Eating).
Beginning in April, Veracruz schools will replace 20 percent of the meat and other animal products they serve with entirely plant-based foods. In addition to affecting nearly 1 million meals per year in Veracruz, the program will encourage healthy and sustainable food choices for students all over the state.
Veracruz is the first state to make a commitment and sign a bill saying it will promote plant-based foods in schools throughout the state—a groundbreaking accomplishment for Come Consciente, MFA Mexico, and the state of Veracruz. The administration of Veracruz reportedly hopes that the program will reduce the rates of childhood obesity and malnutrition in the state, especially since both of these conditions have been linked to learning problems.
The program could also help prevent Veracruz’s next generation from developing diabetes, the leading cause of death in Mexico, according to the World Health Organization. The disease claims nearly 80,000 Mexican lives each year, but serving more vegan meals in schools could reduce that number over time. In addition to protecting the body from certain cancers, plant-based diets have been shown to lower blood sugar levels. In fact, new research has found that a vegan diet may reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Decreased inflammation and lowered risk of heart disease have been linked to plant-based diets as well.
Coral González, food policy specialist at MFA Mexico and Come Consciente, says, “By replacing 20 percent of its meat, dairy, and eggs with healthy, eco-friendly plant-based foods, the state of Veracruz is leading the way to a brighter future.”
The Come Consciente program in Veracruz will receive ample support to ensure its success, including informative posters, a Veracruz-specific recipe guide sent to schools across the state, a launch video, and a demonstration video for preparing plant-based meals.
At the bill’s historic signing last weekend, Alan Darer, MFA’s global food policy manager, applauded the secretary of education before awarding Veracruz with the first-ever Come Consciente seal: "We are very grateful to the secretary of education in Veracruz and the ESVISA Coordination for their support and collaboration in making this project a success. We are proud to deliver to the state of Veracruz the first Come Consciente seal, demonstrating its commitment to the health of students and sustainability. Congratulations!"
But Veracruz is just the beginning. MFA is looking forward to working with other state governments in Mexico to achieve similar victories and implement more conscious eating programs in schools throughout the nation.
Want to support our work in making school food more healthy and compassionate? Click here to make a donation today, and learn more about preventing cruelty to farmed animals and protecting your own health by switching to a plant-based diet.