Article by Mira Word, written for Good Food Finder. Recently, Meatless Monday stirred up some chatter after livestock industry promoters put a halt on their campaign up on Capitol Hill. The complaints were based on Restaurant Associates (the company that serves the cafeterias in House office buildings) posting information in dining areas and on its website promoting a plant based diet on Mondays.
Let's not jump to conclusions, this is not an undercover vegan activist agenda, there was still meat available on Mondays. The signs were simply highlighting the veggie options and facts that eating less meat can help reduce the heavy load livestock farming places on the environment and our health.
In case you're unfamiliar, the whole philosophy behind the Meatless Monday project is that going meatless once a week will help curb preventable diseases and help reduce the carbon footprint our diet has on the planet.
Restaurant Associates had tried promoting the veggie options only once in June, when livestock groups responded, stating that "'Meatless Mondays' is an acknowledged tool of animal rights and environmental organizations who seek to publicly denigrate U.S. livestock and poultry production...".
After this statement was made and a letter sent, the House felt “bullied” by the livestock producer group Farm Animal Welfare Coalition into eliminating their Meatless Monday endorsement (The Farm Animal Welfare Coalition is a group that represent industry meat producers dedicated to raising animals to slaughter, not to advocate welfare).
While this is a great example of big meat industry’s hand in politics and our inability to acknowledge the scientific evidence associated with a diet filled with cheap meat, but what I find most fascinating is the clear concern the meat industry has for losing business to more sustainable meat options.
The fact that big meat corporations are monitoring the progression of the food movement and its spread to House eateries, is great news. The more we speak out, the more they have to be scared of, because our tolerance is waning for meat that is produced at the expense of our environment and without consideration of animal welfare. Despite the wide spread adoption of Meatless Mondays by families, schools and restaurants, this isn’t the first smack down the program has received. Last year the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) was similarly pressured into removing language promoting Meatless Mondays from a sustainability newsletter, after hearing from the National Cattleman's Beef Association. The association's president, J.D. Alexander, said the idea "should be condemned by anyone who believes agriculture is fundamental to sustaining life on this planet."
Sustaining life on this planet? That seems a little backwards considering all the pressure raising cattle in the industrial model puts on the environment.
Notorious BIG (AG) Here's a few of the destructive outcomes driven by factory farms and industrial agriculture:
- -Habitat degradation
- -Loss of biodiversity
- -Soil erosion and desertification
- -Air and climate pollution: The livestock industry is the largest and least regulated source of water pollution in the nation and largest source of climate changing methane gas.
- Health Problems: Eating meat has been consistently linked to obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and diet-related cancers.
- -Animal welfare concerns, example: CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) Animals raised in confined, stressful, antibiotic filled conditions with extremely restricted opportunities to express their natural behaviors.
Estimates by the Humane Society of the United States says that if every American embraced Meatless Mondays, we would need to raise 1.4 billion fewer farm animals (in factory farmed conditions!) and make an impact the same as taking 500,000 cars off the road per year.
First time hearing all this? Check out Forks Over Knives for a crash course on why eating less meat really matters.
There's great news...palates are a changin’!
USDA data indicates that the average American will consume 12.2 percent less meat and poultry overall in 2012 than they did in 2007. The choices meat eating Americans are making are shifting to healthier, more sustainably produced meats. Shoppers are more aware of animal welfare issues and are seeking alternatives to conventional meat products. GO US! But there is still much to do..
Take action! Share this video on your social media outlet of choice.
- -Try out a Meatless Monday yourself!
- -Stick to it! There are so many great recipe ideas out there!
- -Check out sustainable meat choices in The Good Food Finder today!
The most satisfying part of the meat situation is that you truly have the power to create change and right away! The whole Capitol Hill debacle shows that Big Ag is watching what we eat, so lets make our food movement into a statement so strong no one (no matter how big) can continue to ignore it.
Photos by Mira Word