The French government has condemned the Mayor of Lyon for eliminating meat from school lunches in the city.

Gregory Doucet, a member of the Green party, has said that having a single menu without meat was to ensure a smooth service at lunchtimes during the social distancing enforced by the coronavirus pandemic. But the government has hit back, accusing him of risking children's health.

"Let's stop putting ideology on our children's plates," wrote Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie. "Let's just give them what they need to grow well. Meat is part of it," he added in a post on Twitter.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said it was an "unacceptable insult" for French farmers and butchers.

Mayor Doucet, who was one of the green politicians to seize control of major cities in last year's local elections, hit back on Twitter, saying that the measure was taken "solely" because of the health crisis.

He proceeded to point out that his right-wing predecessor, Mayor Gerard Collomb, had taken "the same measure" during the first wave of the pandemic, and that the menu, which contains fish and egg items, was "balanced for all our schoolchildren."

The measure allows 29,000 meals eaten daily in school canteens across Lyon to be served during the 11:30 am to 1:45 pm lunch period, the city hall said, and ensures that "no child is excluded."

Doucet is not the first of the current generation of Green Mayors to court controversy.

Last year, the new Green Mayor of Bordeaux, Pierre Hurmic, agreed to do away with the city's traditional Christmas tree as part of his sustainability agenda, saying he was "not going to put dead trees in our squares."

And Doucet himself raised his eyebrows by implying that the most French of sporting events-the Tour de France-was "macho and polluting" and not welcome back to the city if it was not "environmentally responsible."

Nutritionists say plant-based diets are safe for children but advise taking special caution to ensure that adequate quantities of protein, iron, and other minerals will be included.

Lyon is a gastronomical city where many dishes are meaty, but green issues, including over-farming concerns, are reported to have gained attention. The mayor of the city considers himself a "flexitarian" who eats meat. He says it's not his agenda to impose vegetarianism on children.