Moms: Instead of Cutting Back on Pizza, Let’s Make it Vegan

Shocker, pizza is unhealthy for kids. “Children and teens consume far more calories, fat and sodium on days that they eat pizza, according to a new study, and school lunches are the main culprit when it comes to consumption of the delicious but nutrient-deficient cheesy pie,” according to an article on CTV.

The study was conducted with children between the ages of two and 19 in the United States and published in the journal of Pediatrics. CTV references the study and writes; “Among adolescents, the fat from pizza they consumed represented 24 percent of the recommended daily intake value, while the sodium they consumed made up 21 percent of the recommended daily intake value”. The lead study author recommends curbing consumption and improving nutritional value.

In my humble opinion, it’s not the dough or the veggie toppings that make the pizza unhealthy. It’s the dairy cheese and the processed meat. CTV’s article is accompanied by a photo of a woman serving pizza at an elementary school in Nebraska — and it’s a hamburger pizza! So the processed meat is on top of the processed cheese.

Why don’t schools replace the hamburger or pepperoni with broccoli and peppers and the cow cheese with a plant-based cheese substitute? It’s 2015 and so many, if not all, major grocery chains carry plant-based cheeses. In Toronto, where I live, the stuff is available at Whole Foods, Metro, Loblaws, and Sobeys, to name a few.

I make pizza for dinner all the time and my son loves it. On the fresh dough and sauce I choose from a variety of seasonal vegetables such as tomatoes, broccoli, peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, asparagus, olives, basil, and spinach. Then I sprinkle Daiya cheese on top and it melts perfectly. (Daiya is a Canadian-based dairy alternative food company with products available in the United States too; it’s also gluten and soy free!) All their delicious products are plant-based, and honestly, this cheese has changed my life for the better as far as delicious healthy meals are concerned.

There seems to be a serious disconnect between what is proven to be unhealthy and what children are still eating. Multiple reputable health studies were released years ago about how unhealthy dairy and meat both are; yet schools in the United States and Canada are still serving unhealthy food to children. I believe if we want this to change we, as moms, need to speak up. If this bothers you why not suggest alternatives and offer healthy meal suggestions to school staff? We can take a stand against unhealthy food. Together we can make our voices heard and create positive change. We can speak to the principal, school trustee, parent’s committee, anyone that can help get healthy food into our kid’s schools and then into their tummies! 

Fortunately some schools are changing and taking the health studies and animal welfare concerns into consideration when planning their student’s meals. They can be role models for others. One school in particular makes me want to move back to California and enroll my son! This private elementary school is Calabasas, founded by Suzy Amis Cameron and her sister Rebecca Amis, made history and healthy meals all at the same time. It’s an environmental school with a focus on reducing our carbon footprint and helping the earth and animals. Not only are the students eating a plant-based diet, they are helping to grow their own fresh fruits and vegetables. Needless to say they won’t be serving any hamburger cow cheese pizzas. And for that matter, neither will I.

Photo: Getty