No More Mystery Meat: A New York Public School Goes All Vegetarian!

About 400 students in Queens are finding tofu and veggie chili in place of chicken nuggets on their school's lunchroom menu

Kids at one New York City public school can kiss chicken nuggets and pepperoni pizza goodbye: Public School 244 has become what may be the first-ever all-vegetarian public school in the country.

About 400 students attend the Queens school, which covers pre-kingergarden through third grade, according to an NBC News report.

The culinary shift came in January, when the school made an effort toward healthier food options by offering vegetarian meals initially three times weekly. But schools chancellor Dennis Walcott just recognized the effort during a visit this week, calling it "trailblazing."

Robert Groff, the school's principal, told NBC News, "The founding of our school was based on health and nutrition and teaching kids how to make healthy choices in the belief that they would be more successful academically and in their life." He added that the head cook is also a vegetarian -- and a school parent.

So what's on the menu? Braised black beans and plantains, tofu roasted in Asian sesame sauce, falafel and cucumber salad, tofu vegetable wraps, vegetarian chili with brown rice, and black bean and cheddar quesadillas served with salsa and red roasted potatoes, according to NBC News -- or fare you'd sooner expect to find in a trendy L.A. restaurant than a school lunchroom.

Administrators said the transition has been seamless, in part because a substantial majority of the school's population is of Indian and Asian descent, but parents (or students) who don't love the lunches can bring their own lunches to school. And yes, they can contain meat.

Alesandra Dubin is a Los Angeles-based writer and the founder of home and travel blog Homebody in Motion. Follow her on Twitter: @alicedubin.

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