Meatless Monday found itself at the center of an unexpected firestorm last week, when the USDA made –and quickly retracted- the recommendation that staff go meatless one day a week in an interoffice newsletter. Since then, the controversy has been featured in the NY Times, Fortune, NPR, Fox News and TIME, amongst dozens of other publications, radio programs and TV features.
The USDA’s hasty reaction to industry pressure left many health and environmental advocates disappointed. Michael Klag, Dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has expressed this collective dismay in a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. The letter, which was also sent to President Obama and leaders in Congress, makes important points about the responsibility of the USDA to represent all sectors of agriculture and to fulfill their mission to promote a healthy diet complete with less saturated fat and more fruits and vegetables.