Last week, Energy & Environment News reported that promotion of Meatless Monday is being halted at cafeterias at the U.S. House of Representatives. According to the report, the MM promos were eliminated after a coalition of livestock industry groups sent a letter to the House Committee on House Administration asking for their removal.
The withdrawal of the promos under livestock industry pressure echoes last year’s controversial striking of mentions of Meatless Monday in an employee newsletter sent to workers at the USDA.
In response to the House move, Dr. Robert Lawrence, director of the Center for a Livable Future at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, pointed out in a blog post on Friday that Meatless Monday’s goals of increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables, reducing saturated fat intake and eating a variety of protein sources are “three key recommendations of the USDA’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines.”
Dropping promotion of Meatless Monday is also misguided, Dr. Lawrence argued, because it “ignores the growing scientific evidence of the health-damaging effects of the typical high-meat American diet.” And yet, while the campaign obviously asks people to abstain from meat fully one day a week, it is in no way anti-meat. As Lawrence wrote: “Contrary to the industry’s accusation that the campaign seeks to ‘publicly denigrate U.S. livestock and poultry production,’ Meatless Monday does not advocate giving up meat altogether – rather, it promotes moderation and encourages participating institutions to offer both meat and meatless options.”
Also coming out to lend support for Meatless Monday was Natural Resources Defense Council policy analyst Sasha Lyutse. In a post on the Huffington Post titled, “Livestock Industry Bullying on Meatless Mondays Campaign Doesn’t Change Facts — or Consumer Trends,” Lyutse wrote, “Despite this disappointing episode, public trends speak for themselves.” Put simply, those trends are that Meatless Monday is growing rapidly (now encompassing 23 countries as well as thousands of communities, schools, restaurants and worksites) and also that when consumers do eat meat, increasingly they’re opting for healthier and more sustainably produced products.
Describing Meatless Monday as a “cultural force,” Lyutse wrote that “every week, concerned citizens and consumers across the country are voting with their wallets, simultaneously making Meatless Mondays increasingly mainstream and helping to bring an abundance of meat and poultry alternatives into the marketplace.”
Research has consistently shown a range of health benefits from cutting back on meat, including lowered risk of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke and certain cancers. In turn, diets rich in fruits and vegetables have been shown to have a preventative effect on the chances of developing cancer and chronic diseases. So regardless of whether House cafeterias are promoting it or not, make today Meatless Monday!