On Sunday, the French government accused the green mayor of Lyon of insulting French butchers and harming children’s health by keeping meat off the menu for school lunches in the city.
Mayor Gregory Doucet defended the decision, saying the idea of having a single menu without meat was to ensure a smooth service at lunchtime during the social distance implemented by the Covid-19 crisis.
But the government struck at the mayor, who was one of a number of green politicians to gain control of major cities in last year’s local elections, seen as a blow to the party by President Emmanuel Macron.
Lyon is also seen by many as the country’s culinary capital, known for its hearty meat-based cuisine.
“Let’s stop putting ideology on our children’s plates,” Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie wrote on Twitter.
“Let’s just give them what they need to grow well. Meat is part of it, “he said, adding that he had asked the region’s prefect, the state-appointed local official, to cancel the move.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said it was an “unacceptable insult” to French farmers and butchers.
“We can see that the green moralizing and elitist policies exclude the popular classes. Many children are often only allowed to eat meat in the school canteen. ”
Doucet took to Twitter to say that the action had been taken “solely” due to the health crisis, adding that his right-wing predecessor as Mayor Gerard Collomb had taken “exactly the same action” during the first wave of the pandemic.
He said the menu – which includes fish and egg products – was “balanced for all our school children”.
Doucet is not the first of the new breed of green mayors to arouse controversy.
Last year, the new green mayor of Bordeaux, Pierre Hurmic, decided to abolish the city’s traditional Christmas tree as part of his environmental forecast, saying he “does not intend to lay dead trees in our squares.”
And Doucet himself raised eyebrows by saying that the most French of sporting events – the Tour de France – were “macho and polluting” and did not welcome back to the city as long as it was not “environmentally responsible”.