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San Francisco Bans Happy Meals

Written by PETA | November 3, 2010

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors has voted to require restaurant kids’ meals that come with free toys to contain fewer than 600 calories, include fruits and veggies, and exclude fat- and sugar-laden beverages. And (surprise!) McDonald’s Happy Meal doesn’t make the cut.

As a kid (before I went vegetarian “cold turkey” at age 10 after realizing that meat comes from a living, breathing being), I would beg my parents to take me to Mickey D’s for the latest cheap plastic doodad. I couldn’t have cared less about the fat-and-cholesterol bomb in a bun that came with it, but the toy lured me (and my parents) to the drive-through month after month.

With 15 percent of American children now classified as overweight or obese—putting them in danger of serious health problems including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer—stopping restaurants like McDonald’s from using “kid bait” to market unhealthy animal flesh to children seems like a pretty good idea to this former Happy Meal lover.

Written by Lindsay Pollard-Post

Commenting is closed.
  • Shannon says:

    Ecstatic about this news! GO SAN FRANSICO!

  • Bryony says:

    why don’t they just ban mcdonalds alltogether? that would make me very happy (:

  • Kiara says:

    I just loved Daniel’s comment up here, it is soooooooooooooooo American. Well, I do not know how it works there, but here in my country, Hungary, you can buy just the toys without the meal. My kids don’t like chips e.g. so if we like the toy, we only go for them and buy something to eat or drink if we really want to. I have educated them in a way that there is no way for them coercing me into buying junk food or junk toys incessantly, we couldn’t afford it anyway. I think buying such toys 2 or three times a year is OK. It is fun for the kids. I find it very odd that such a ban should happen right there in California, USA. On the other hand, I am not surprised. As a direct consequence of the great idea of “people should have the freedom of choice ” parents seem to lack the courage and wisdom of preventing their own children from that when necessary!

  • A person that actually thinks about what people REALLY write says:

    You can eat anything you want, as long as it’s in moderation. Not all 15% of the overweight children were cause by McDonald’s. It may be a disorder they have or something else. Obesity is not the only reason people suffer from diabetes and cancer.

  • Kurt K says:

    PETA: Kids have been finishing their happy meals for a long time.  Long before I have been around.  Do you really think it is the foods fault?

    When I was a kid I would spend every free minute I had outside playing with my friends.  I would ride my bike from one side of town to the other everyday during the summer.  I would play sports or go play in the woods after school in the fall and winter.  I hated having to go inside at the end of the day.  

    I didn’t have an Xbox or Playstaion.  Texting didn’t exist and laptops were not yet a reality.  Kids today are freaking lazy.  I could have eaten a happy meal a day when I was a kid and I still would have looked thin.  

    Nothing pisses me off more when I see my 12 and 13 year old nephews inside on a sunny day playing Call of Duty.  How many of these overweight children do you think are not physically active?  How many of them are participating in sports or extracurricular activities?  I would bet not many.

    Our socieity blames everybody and everything for their problems, but never themselves.  Parents don’t want to accept that they are failing so they blame food, or the school or McDonalds.  It is sad what we have become.

    I pity our future generations.  This ban is just placing blame on someone else.

  • PETA says:

    Re: Miss Boogalo. Kids seem to be finishing their Happy Meals–the proof is in the startling statistic that one-third of all American children are overweight. “Healthy” meat consumption doesn’t exist. Meat is linked to heart disease, cancer, and strokes. To read more about how meat wreaks havoc on our bodies, please check out: – PETA

  • Miss Boogaloo says:

    SO just fries and lemonade are alright because they are vegetarian.? And a slice of real good cheese contains about three times more fat than the same amount of lean beef. I am not a vegetarian, but a healthy eater. meat consumption needs to be done carefully and fish is still high on the list. BTW. Most of the kids don´t eat their Happy meal, they just have a nibble, the rest gets eaten by the parents. I think Happy Meals are just an excuse for the grown ups to have a burger and fries too. Even if they reduce the calories. 600 per meal are still quite a lot.

  • Kurt K says:

    This is nothing more than the government playing big brother.  The city of San Fransico just anounced that they know better than the people living in the city.  Leaving all other issues aside, this should frighten the crap out of every citizen in the US and especially in California.  So much for our citizenship right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    If they can do this then they will try and ban something else.  This is just the beginning unless we the people stand against such tyranical beginings.

  • ocean17 says:

    yikes! i must have hit a nerve. or something.

    “Our culture is full of bad things…true.”  

    let’s see… i’m with you so far, description is rather loose, the “fuzzylogic” card, but i feel you don’t quite have a handell on the issues here..

    “but one happy meal a month isn’t killing a Nation”

    wait, actually that’s a lie. an humongous one at that. while we are here, tell me how you could “kill” a nation, lousy metaphor, cheap window dressing. and it appears that your biased, insensible renderings are illogical and make no sense. take a peak at the insane and barbaric slaughter rates of animals the next time you get a chance. or read fast food nation if you have any questions.

    but more to the point… little pieces of plastic and cute fluffy toys served up with hopelessly non-nutritional synthetic junkfood and dead animals is a _very bad thing_.

    “Do you bike/walk to work?  I doubt it.”

    i don’t know, you seem to have already made up your mind about me. actually mass transit and my trusty beater bike, are my only means of transporation, and have been for approximately the last two decades. my last car was a 1973 ford LTD, it died a horrible death, served me well.

    but your point about me being a hypocrite, even though nonsensical and beyond irrelevant, isn’t exactly off the mark. if i could get a real job driving a vehicle doing various things, into wood grab it in a minute. one of my siblings has a *real* nice car though, but unfortunately she ain’t veggie, it’s a foreign language too her. how sad.

  • Jade says:

    “even so this has nothing to do with parents and/or fast food outlets “bribing” children and slacker adults into buying/eating non-nutrituous fast food meals”

    So If I work 10 hours a day and am too exhausted to be able to cook a meal because I’m a single working mom, I’m a slacker? How is that statement in any way true or even remotely respectful? Some of us dont have the luxury of being able to spend the time to cook a meal. I work full time and then have to come home and care for my disabled mother and autistic daughter. Cooking is not something I have time for. So if I want to buy my daughter a happy meal on the way home from work, That is my choice. No one else’s. Again this is America and I believe in personal freedoms and if you dont want to eat meat or fast food that’s fine. I dont judge and think it’s fantastic that you have your own beliefs and stick to them. Just allow me to do the same without judgement.

    P.S. My daughter is not obese and is in fact a normal skinny active kid.

  • chaostiy says:

    by the way SAMI you rock… 100% agree with you.. thank you for having a brain!!! Ocean17.  Our culture is full of bad things.  true.  but one happy meal a month isn’t killing a Nation.  BAD DECISIONS BY STUPID PEOPLE ARE.  Do you bike/walk to work?  I doubt it.  take a metro or subway?  you are contributing.  get off your high horse

  • ocean17 says:

    “…child eats at mcdonals she loves the happy meals and the stupid toy that goes right along with it.” at least you got the stupid toy part right. now connect the dots and take a good look at what you are actually feeding yourself and/or your children. “…comments on here are so far out there I thought I was on a political sight (sic).” i hope yer kidding, right.. anyway… so much that mainstream animal rights activism is a form of social protest and includes animal law, then yes this can be considered a political site. even so this has nothing to do with parents and/or fast food outlets “bribing” children and slacker adults into buying/eating non-nutrituous fast food meals. “If you cant control and monitor your child and watch what they eat and what they dont eat…” *sigh* good point, there is no such thing as a hamburger path. like really.

  • joyze says:

    These comments on here are so far out there I thought I was on a political sight.  Parents should parent their child not the goverment.  My child eats at mcdonals she loves the happy meals and the stupid toy that goes right along with it.  My child is not obese and she enjoys this extra treat every once in a while.     seriously you people crack me up. People will still eat at Mcdonalds and if they aren’t controlling what their kids eat now that isn’t going to change because theirs no toy. How can you call yourself parents when you cant even tell your children no.  Ive been to mcdonalds and you can have a happy meal without the toy it is a option.  So when you go ask for no toy but then again you dont want to have to say no to your babies so you want the goverment to do it for you.   If you cant control and monitor your child and watch what they eat and what they dont eat. Don’t have kids.  

  • Marg Durrance says:

    Do you all not see how we no longer live in a democracy? Choices about me, mine, my body, my values, beliefs etc. are for me to decide about. By all means, educate me but do not dictate to me. I am an entity unto myself. This covers a lot of controversial subjects e.g. abortion, smoking, etc. that we are being “told” we can or cannot do. Who are these powers that be whom have taken away our right to choose?

  • Willow says:

    This ban is not telling people what to eat. Rather, it is simply saying that meals over 600 calories cannot contain a free toy. It isn’t telling anyone what to eat. You can still eat at McDonald’s, you can still order your child a Happy Meal, but there won’t be a toy. In other words, San Diego refuses to allow poison to be marketed to children. This is what happened when Camel cigarettes were banned from using a cartoon camel- because it attracted children to a harmful product. This is a great idea and should be supported by anyone who cares about our future.

  • Stacy says:

    Yeah! That’s great news! Maybe this will spread like wild fire to other cities and states. As for Daniel. What you choose for your self is your own doing, but it is highly unfair to NOT teach your children healthy eating habits. Maybe if more people were and not so much fast food, then the percent of overweight children would be less. There would be less health issues in our young children. For an adult. Yeah it is your choice. But lets protect our kids and their future.

  • Yolanda says:

    Daniel, I respect your opinion, and I also believe that the U.S. was founded on freedom. However, rules are created FOR A REASON…last time I checked, UNCONCERNED parents are the ones purchasing this trash.

  • Carole says:


  • ocean17 says:

    i agree with Tonya also, very insightful comments. it’s not called junk food for nothing.

  • Lacey Matthews says:

    There are many forms of child abuse, ranging from leaving a child unattended in a car to locking them in a closet and starving them. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that setting a child up for a lifetime of poor eating habits that may very well result in premature death from a heart attack falls somewhere in that spectrum.

  • ocean17 says:

    “15% of kids are overweight or obese”

    oversimplification or convenient distortion at best, do the math. there is an obesity epidemic here in america, this is well documented. pretty sure you don’t have your “facts” straight, no mind, kids today have to suffer through an “eyes wide shut” empty calorie, highly synthetic “junkfood” culture, where apathy, hearltess cruelty, random violence, visible hatred and blank stares are the norm.

    “…they are healthy and happy and they love happy meals.”

    wrong, pony up some real world data please instead of various self-induced “insights” and horrible misconstructions. maybe you should consider switching to a plant based diet, or at least read Skinny *****

    if you really care about your childrens health. and happiness. and i suppose that you take them there in your shiny brand new gas-guzzler of a SUV, nevermind wasting valuable and precious resources. sheesh.

    “really it’s not the food”

    well what is it then, come on don’t be shy..?

    really it’s not food, and not meant for humane consumption. really don’t have to argue this point. what should bee clear is that a diet high in fats sugars, synthetic chemicals, poisons and animal protein, and is low in actual nutrients ; is linked with heart disease, bowel cancer and other health problems.

    it saddens me to think that you apparently believe that taking your children to mickey dees for dinner is a healthy activity and that they are somehow happy. nothing could be further from the truth.

  • ocean17 says:

    this is good news, it seems that the board of supes has done something right. and no, san francisco is as “yuppiefied” and drowning in SUV’s, high rents and “macho” neandeerthal unsimiling drones as any other “progressive” metropolis in america. for shame.

  • Mari says:

    I’m not sure where i stand on this. Its great that they made a calorie limit but you can’t tell people what they can’t and can eat. ???

  • Ivy says:

    Re: Jackie. If you want to eat yourself to death by gorging on children’s Happy Meals, that’s fine by me. But, regardless if this is America or not, we have a responsibility to monitor our children’s health—and not tempt them with toys, sodium, and saturated fat all stuffed into one deadly package.

  • Rachel says:

    Food ban? Sounds very Nazi state to me. What’s next ban on smoking, or being gay? I think that I just use my First Amendment right to eat where I want. If you’re worried that your children are fat then send them outside to play.

  • chaostiy says:

    You people are nuts.  I understand your plight on behalf of animals and applaud it.  but, before we go blaming McD’s why don’t you look where the real problem  lies.. the parents!! Are you going to blame the CAR company for the idiot who crashes the car?  NO.  In this country people HAVE A CHOICE. People like you are systematically taking choice away from the american people.  Do I think people should smoke? NO.  But they should have the RIGHT to make that choice.  Our country is supposedly FREE.  If people want to eat a happy meal that is their choice.  what about Alcohol?  that is just as if not more damaging then the happy meal…. where is the ban on it?  C’mon people… start looking in the mirror and stop blaming everyone else for poor decisions made by YOU.

  • Jackie says:

    Johnson, I’m so tired of people like yourself bringing up child abuse for feeding a child McDonald’s. Are you aware of what child abuse is Johnson, are you seriously going to claim feeding a child French Fries is on par with raping a child? Everytime you associate child abuse with such folly, you’re taking away fromthe seriousness of true child abuse.

  • Sami says:

    15% of kids are overweight or obese That leaves let’s see on yeah 85% who aren’t?? If I have the math correct then 85% is MORE THAN 15%. Which means that more kids are not obese than are. HRMM?? I have 4 kids and 0% of them are obese. They are healthy and happy and they love Happy Meals. San Francisco is full of crazy politicians that brain wash constituents to believe their political propaganda. Really it’s not the food. If parents didn’t expect the TV to babysit their children and they actually (god forbid) pay attention to them and take them outside and DO SOMETHING WITH THEM. Americans would realize it’s not the food we eat it’s the MASS QUANTITIES and Laziness that causes the obesity. Get out from behind your computers and take your kids to the park for heavens sake.

  • tigeress says:

    well iam glad they did that but it should be the parents to start cooking at home to make there children better and healthier food ,lets go back to the time f our parents when it was about family meals and spending time with the kids

  • PirateCat says:

    What really highlights how unethical the whole Happy Meal situation is, is the companies who supply the toys, Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks etc, all these companies thrive on creating a magical safe place for children. So the kids go and watch the film, then pollute their bodies, but hey, it’s ok right? They get a cute toy from the film they just saw!

  • Daniel says:

    Are you all stupid? The parents should have the right to do whatever they want because the last time I checked this was America and if I want to eat myself to death I should be able to and I shouldn’t let some self righteous vegetarian stop me.

  • Wim says:

    To Charlotte, why don’t you make it so :

    The ones that were started before were not so successful:…/search.lsim

    Maybe Peta will want to promote yours once you set it up (I’m not a UK resident, I’d do it myself if I was 🙂

  • Michele says:

    Wow, this is fantastic news!!!!

  • Johnson says:

    HOOOOORAY… Great news for the children in SF… may it spread to the rest of the world… or let Jacob choke in this so called food… IMO, feeding children McD should be classified as child abuse…

  • Suzanne T says:

    Shouldn’t it be parents that make that decision,not the state of california,so if a fat person orders a big mac can they refuse them that too???

  • Miki says:

    I completely agree with Tonya Parents just must not know HOW bad it is.. Becaus we all know that macca’s is a meal you shouldn’t have on a regular basis.. And people need to know that the effect of it isn’t just making everyon fat… It’s killing them.

  • Maddison says:

    Here in Australia, they changed the happy meal to contain juice, apple slices and pasta.

  • Tonya says:

    This is exciting. Hopefully other cities will follow. You don’t need a toy to go with your food. And most parents tell the kids “Eat you “food” first, then you can have your toy”. They have to bribe them with the toy in order for them to choke down toxic poison. HOW can a parent sit back and watch their precious child consume such horrible “food”?

  • Charlotte says:

    I am so thrilled with the ban on ‘Happy Meals’, now if only a ban would be made in the United Kingdom :).

  • Jacob says:

    Of course it banned happy meals, San Francisco is full of hippies!