Fifteen public schools in Brooklyn have become the latest institutions of learning to promote healthy and sustainable meals. Fortunately, the trend of teaching students to consume more fruits and vegetables and less meat is gathering momentum.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams spearheaded the Meatless Monday initiative. Adams himself had changed his eating habits and reversed his Type 2 Diabetes. As an advocate for nutrition, he was excited for the opportunity to “transform the health of thousands of our city’s students, as well as open the door to a powerful conversation that children can have with families on nutrition and wellness.”

A 2015 study revealed that under 20 percent of New York City children between the ages of six and 12 ate the recommended five or more fruits and vegetables a day. On a related note, childhood obesity is at an all-time high as children exercise less and eat more junk food. Entrees like spinach wraps, vegetarian chili, roasted chickpea tagine, black bean quesadillas, crispy tofu, zucchini parmesan and margarita pizza on Mondays will help educate children at a young age that healthy food is delicious and the best choice. Good eating habits taught to children at a young age can encourage lifelong nutritious food consumption.

Plant-based diets are also beneficial to our planet. Nearly 1,850 gallons of water are used to produce a single pound of beef, yet only thirty-nine gallons of water are needed to produce a pound of vegetables. In addition to the new Monday breakfast and lunch offerings, the Department of Energy’s Office of Sustainability has provided eco-friendly compostable plates, replacing the polystyrene tray, and set up new recycling stations at every school in New York City. The lessons in sustainability are as important as the education in healthy eating.

“Cutting back a little on meat will help make our City healthier and our planet stronger for generations to come,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “[First Lady] Chirlane and I are excited to participate in Meatless Mondays at home, and we thank Borough President Adams for leading the charge behind this healthy and sustainable initiative.”

As more schools offer meatless options, younger generations will increasingly partake in healthy eating and sustainable living. This transformation will result in less human illness and better treatment of Mother Earth.

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