Vegetarian school meal debate provokes wrath of City Council carnivores
Helsinki schools to offer weekly meatless meal
On Wednesday, the Helsinki City Council voted in favour of a proposal put forward by counsellor Emma Kari (Green League) for a weekly day of vegetarian food at the educational institutions of the capital.
The decision implied that all schools would start serving vegetarian food once a week without any meat or fish alternatives.
The decision made by the cousellors followed an unusually emotional debate. Emma Kari was amazed at the strong emotions prompted by her initiative.
”In terms of environment, food is part of politics”, she summarised.
A stir went through the City Council café already in advance, with people wondering ”how a weekly day of vegetarian food in schools has provoked meat-eaters”.
”In my opinion, this is not a question to be handled at the City Council. School meals are a responsibility of the Education Department, and they should be supervised by professionals and civil servants”, said Maija Anttila (SDP) with some astonishment. She felt that the entire discussion was ”elitist, moralistic, and unpleasant”.
Councillor Johanna Sumuvuori (Green League) started the debate by saying that a weekly day of vegetarian food is an excellent climate action.
”This is not a question of starving anyone”, Sumuvuori noted.
Sirpa Asko-Seljavaara (National Coalition Party) responded that a human being’s teeth and digestive system are meant to ingest mixed food.
”It is not right that people are forced to eat vegetarian food for ideological reasons”, Asko-Seljavaara noted.
Even Juho Romakkaniemi, a member of the culinary club Eläinten hautausmaa (”Animal Cemetery”), opposed the compulsory day of vegetarian food.
”We seem to have here some reactionaries who want to smash this diversity”, Romakkaniemi accused.
Standing on the speaker’s stand, Nina Suomalainen (National Coalition) was waving a cookery book in her hand, when she recommended lasagne with grilled vegetables.
”I do not believe that a weekly day of vegetarian food could kill or starve anybody”, she declared.
Mika Ebeling (Christian Democrats) opposed a vegetarian day using biblical metaphors to back his argument.
”Jesus spoke about Pharisees who imposed burdens on people that they themselves were unwilling to bear”, Ebeling cited.
Eero Heinäluoma (SDP) had asked his son for an opinion, as he is studying to become a chef. The son was in favour of a vegetarian day, and so was the father.
Jussi Halla-aho (True Finns/unaffiliated) assumed that a vegetarian day is an example of the force-feeding of ideas by a certain clique, whose ideology is being promoted little by little.
Espoo’s City Council rejected a similar proposal on the matter at its meeting on Monday.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Helsinki schools could get weekly vegetarian food day (16.2.2010)