Jean-Luc Melenchon said on Sunday that every state school should offer Muslim and Jewish children a pork-free option at lunch.
The Socialist, who was being interviewed by a panel of youngsters aged eight to 12, said the measure would "shut down" the debate in France.
He said: "If there's no meat, there's no meat. You really don't need to eat meat every day."
Mr Melenchon added that he didn't think it was "normal" that some school canteens did not offer Muslim and Jewish pupils a pork-free option..
He added: "We need to find a middle ground on school meals that will allow us to live in harmony.
"Because if we don't, the fight between those who are for pork-free meals and those who are against them will never end. Vegetarian meals are the solution to all our woes." [Daily Express] Read more