Monday, April 03, 2006

Tolerance, Inclusion, Sensitivity, and All That Good Stuff

Friday evening we went to see the spring musical at the local high school--the one DS#1 and DD#1 graduated from and that DS#2 is currently attending. The performance was held in the school cafeteria. Posted on the wall is the menu with the daily specials listed.

Vegetarian meals are prominently marked with a heart.

A friend of mine, who works at the school, came over to say "Hi" while I was looking at the menu.

"Do you see anything odd about the choices of entree?" I asked her.

She looked. "No," she answered.

"There's vegetarian options on Tuesday and Thursday, but none on Friday," I pointed out.

"You're right!" she acknowledged. She's very active in the local Lutheran Church and we've discussed the similarities of traditions between Lutherans and Catholics. Her parish encourages the practice of meatless Fridays during Lent as well.

Since meatless Fridays are a Catholic tradition that goes way back, and seems to persist despite it being "optional," I think it rather odd that the public schools should not have a vegetarian entree available that day. It's not that the kids would starve: cheese pizza and cheese and bean burritos are available daily. (According to DS#2, though, they taste pretty nasty--this from a kid who will eat almost anything with cheese on it!) Still, why not move the vegetarian entree to Friday?

If you're a vegan or Hindu, you're pretty much out of luck except on Tuesday and Thursday. If you're Muslim or kosher Jew, your choices are also limited. So it's not just a blind spot for Catholic (or other Friday-fasting Christian) dietary restrictions or traditions.

I usually make DS#2's lunch, so he gets what I give him. But it would be nice if the school cafeteria at least paid token respect to religious dietary restrictions.