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Remember back in April when there were several news stories about a school in Queens, NY that went all-vegetarian?

It was the first public school in the country to do it, and it made lots of headlines:

School 244 in Flushing, Queens, becomes first public school in nation to serve only vegetarian meals: officials

NYC public school swaps chicken nuggets for tofu, becomes first all-vegetarian cafeteria

all veg school

New York Post photo by Matt McDermott

It was a big deal. These students were now eating a healthier, greener, and more compassionate diet at school.

Advocates for animals, health, and the environment took notice all over the country.

And it all apparently started because the few all-veg days in the cafeteria that were already in place were by far the most popular among students.

A science teacher and Director of School Wellness at Public School 244, Christian Ledesma shared with Laika Magazine that:

“This journey started because the students were not eating the usual meat-based lunches…So this whole movement has been student-driven. Our founding and current principals, who are not even vegetarians, just followed the lead of the students and provided the healthiest option available.”

To me, that’s the most exciting part – that the students led the way. It’s very encouraging and gives me hope for the environment, animals, and the health of future generations.

The students even got to visit Catskill Animal Sanctuary (CAS) as a result of their all-veg switch. CAS founder Kathy Stevens told Laika:

“As soon as I read the news [about the school going vegetarian], I burst into tears. A few moments later, I reached out to Amie Hamlin, director of the New York Coalition for Healthy School Foods, to ask if she thought the school might like to visit Catskill Animal Sanctuary, and she put me in touch with their wonderful principal who immediately responded ‘YES!'”

At CAS, a haven for farm animals rescued from abuse and neglect, the kids got to meet cows, chickens, pigs, goats, and other animals.

They learned that these animals are each individuals with unique preferences and personalities – not just commodities, which is what factory farms treat them as.

Queens all veg school, vegetararian public school

Lucky ducks – err, chickens! P.S. 244 students meet a chicken during their visit to CAS (photo from Laika Magazine)

It’s been six months since the vegetarian transition now, and the news of how the students of P.S. 244 are faring just came out on Tuesday:

Queens school that went vegetarian shows student gains, draws plaudit

Attendance, test scores and energy are all improved since P.S. 244 stopped serving meat in its cafeteria, officials at the Flushing school say.

The number of students classified as overweight or obese has gone down, attention spans are longer, attendance is better, and test scores have improved.

Coincidence? I think not. It’s the power of veggies!

I hope other schools and individuals see these wonderful results, think about the positive impacts going veg or vegan would have, and follow the students’ lead.

So let’s all trade in mystery meat for veggie wraps like P.S. 244.

It would benefit the entire world.

To Hope!