Why did two Leipzig kitas’ ‘pork free’ menus spark a nationwide row?

Why did two Leipzig kitas' 'pork free' menus spark a nationwide row?
Schweinebraten: a core part of German culture? Photo: DPA
A nationwide uproar was sparked this week after two eastern German kindergartens introduced a "pork-free" menu.

The decision to take pork of the menu was made “in consideration for a changing world,” according to the kitas (nurseries).

Yet many parents and community members took this to mean that the culinary change was being carried out for the school’s Muslim community – even though the word Muslim was not explicitly used.

But news spread quickly and several federal politicians from the centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU) and far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) then weighed in with attempts to persuade the kitas against the plan. 

AfD vice-president Beatrix von Storch went so far as to call it “cultural subjugation”.

The hashtag #Schweinefleisch (pork) was used widely on Twitter both protest and to back up the decision. Local police were called on to protect both kitas after they received threats.

“In what type of world do we live?” tweeted a Saxon Green Party politician in response to the “racist” demonstrations to be held against the decision. 

Wolfgang Schäfer, the director of both schools, suspended the “pork free” menu decision for the time being in response to the row. 

Yet one father of a child at the kita wrote that there was not a full ban because children could still carry gummi bears (which often include gelatine from pork) with them to school, for example.

Rather, he wrote on Facebook, the school turned to inclusivity for all students, rather than exclusivity towards those who can’t – or don’t want to – eat pork. 

Why such a controversy?

So why does it matter what's on the menu in a kindergarten?

Germany's top-selling daily Bild called pork a core part of German culture and that Muslims should and can learn to adjust.

Pork is a “success story” for Germany, according to news website bento. That makes banning it – for some people – seem like a direct insult to German culture. “Historically the animal is cheap to buy and keep. Almost every farming family could have one.”

While producing beef was reserved for upper class families, stated the news website, producing pork was something that could be done easily by the “everyday man”.

“Food is very strongly connected with our cultural identity,” nutrition researcher Thomas Mohrs told Bento. He added that pork is considered “holy” in both Germany and Austria, especially in dishes such as Schweinebraten (roast pork) and Schnitzel.

There's a darker side to the debate too.

In videos released by far-right extremists in Germany’s, pork has been used as a symbol for national identity, especially following an influx of refugees in the last few years, many of whom come from Islamic countries.

These videos carry a subliminal message: “Where pork is eaten, the world is orderly,” writes bento. 


Ban – (das) Verbot

Pork – (das) Schweine

Change or switch – (die) Umstellung 

Beef – (das) Rind or (das) Rindfleisch 

Subliminal – Unterschwellig

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Member comments

  1. How incredibly ham-fisted of those two Kitas to ban a national dish. If ever there was a way to play into the hands of right wing extremists, it was this. I honestly thought this kind of silly gesture only happened in Britain. By all means widen the menu, but to be so crass as to ban pork. . . goodness me.

  2. It seems where ever this religion decides to settle, the countries have to change to suit these new immigrants, not the other way around.

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