A French MP is campaigning for vegetarian school meals to be introduced to help pupils whose religions prevent them eating pork.
Yves Jego has launched a drive on the Change.org website calling for vegetarian alternatives to be compulsory in all schools.
More than 73,000 people have so far backed the petition.
The move comes after a town in eastern France banned all pork substitutes in school meals last week.
The conservative mayor of Chalon sur Saone had earlier launched his own campaign on Change.org, reiterating France’s secular values. His campaign has gained 2,750 supporters.
“Messages of support and of encouragement have come from every corner of France and from French people of all backgrounds, faiths and professions,” the mayor, Gilles Platret, wrote.
A court in the city of Dijon last week rejected an appeal against Mr Platret’s intention to ban pork substitutes.
“Can we force a Catholic child to eat meat on Good Friday because nothing else is proposed, or a Jew or a Muslim to eat pork?,” Mr Jego asked in his petition, set up in response to Mr Platret’s.
He said he would propose a law if the petition received 75,000 signatories.
France insists on the separation of religion and the state, and in 2004 introduced a ban on headscarves in schools.
France has five million residents of Muslim descent, half of whom are under the age of 24. It also has the largest Jewish population in Europe.
A secular solution to the problem of school meals was possible, said Mr Jego, of the left-wing Radical Party.
The petitions have led to a debate in some quarters on the nature of secularism and what is ethically correct.
“Secularism is not the denial of religions and beliefs, but the respect of all religions,” wrote Houari Zeidouni, who signed Mr Jego’s petition.
But France’s Agriculture Minister, Stephane le Foll, wrote in a tweet: “Supporting French livestock with vegetarian menus: that’s Yves Jego’s programme! Let’s be consistent.”