In response to reports of the $13 million gap in Cleveland's public school budget, PETA has sent a letter to Cleveland Metropolitan School District CEO Eric Gordon with a suggestion that could help the district's budget, its students' health, and animals on factory farms all at the same time: Open the schools' cafeteria lunch trays to paid advertisements, and PETA will kick off the effort with a pro-vegan ad that features the group's chick mascot and reads, "I Am Not a Nugget. Go Vegan!" In the letter, PETA explains that kids who choose vegan meals are significantly healthier than their meat-eating counterparts—and that every person who goes vegan saves more than 100 animals a year.
"PETA's proposal is a win-win situation for Cleveland's schools," says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. "The school's budget will get a nudge toward the black, and students will learn an important message about compassion that could also inspire them to start choosing fiber-rich, nutrient-packed vegan meals over artery-clogging meat and dairy products."
According to the late child-health expert Dr. Benjamin Spock, "Children who grow up getting their nutrition from plant foods rather than meats have a tremendous health advantage. They are less likely to develop weight problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, and some forms of cancer."
PETA has also offered a free vegan lunch—complete with protein-packed and cholesterol-free faux-chicken nuggets, vegan chili, and corn on the cob—to the students and faculty at one of Cleveland's schools.
"We received PETA's inquiry at the same time that media received PETA's press release, and we therefore have not yet had time to thoroughly review the opportunity. We have not allowed advertising on school lunch trays in the past; however, it does raise an interesting question about whether advertising on plates handed to students at lunch time is a legitimate revenue source worthy of further investigation," says Roseann Canfora, Ph.D., District Communications Officer, Cleveland Metropolitan School District
Read PETA's letter to Cleveland Metropolitan School District CEO Eric Gordon below:
Dear Mr. Gordon,
On behalf of PETA and our more than 3 million members and supporters, including many thousands across Ohio, I'm writing with an idea to help move your city's school budget a little bit more toward the black: Open up cafeteria lunch trays (both disposable and reusable) to paid ads promoting nutritious foods and healthy behavior for kids, and allow us to run the first one, featuring an adorable chicken proclaiming, "I Am Not a Nugget—Go Vegan." To complement the ad (see below), we urge you to increase vegan choices in your schools' cafeterias, as many others have done across the country.
As a parent of an elementary school student, I know how important it is for all children to have access to healthy plant-based meals at school. Feeding kids chicken and other meat and dairy products puts them at risk for a slew of health problems. For example, a study by Consumer Reports found that two-thirds of chicken in grocery stores was contaminated with either salmonella or campylobacter—or both—and 64 percent of meat tested by the Food and Drug Administration was contaminated with E. coli. Meat, dairy products, and eggs, which contain no fiber and are loaded with cholesterol and saturated animal fat, are also primary contributors to Ohio's growing childhood-obesity rates. Vegans, on the other hand, tend to be significantly healthier than their meat-eating counterparts. On average, they weigh 18 percent less, and according to one of the most respected child health experts, the late Dr. Benjamin Spock, "Children who grow up getting their nutrition from plant foods rather than meats have tremendous health advantage. They are less likely to develop weight problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, and some forms of cancer." Healthy vegan staples such as beans, rice, and veggie tacos also tend to be less expensive than meat and dairy products.
In addition to improving their own health, every vegan saves the lives of more than 100 animals per year. In today's industrialized meat and dairy industries, chickens and turkeys have their throats cut while they're still conscious, piglets are castrated without being given any painkillers, fish are suffocated or cut open while they're still alive on the decks of fishing boats, and calves are torn away from their mothers within hours of birth. Providing students with vegan meals would encourage them to make healthy, kind choices in other aspects of their lives.
If you like our offer, we'll also supply a delicious free vegan lunch, consisting of protein-packed and cholesterol-free faux-chicken nuggets, chili sprinkled with vegan cheese, and corn on the cob to the students and faculty at one of the schools in your district. I look forward to hearing from you.
Executive Vice President