USDA 'Meatless Monday' Controversy Proves Politics Are Poisoning Our Food

pomegranate saladHealth care, gay marriage, abortion ... meatless Mondays?! Apparently, choosing whether or not to forgo meat one night a week for environmentally conscious reasons is up there with some of the most divisive issues of our time. At least that's what you might conclude after reading about a war of words between the USDA and various politicians and meat industry types (like livestock producers).

It all began when the USDA gave "Meatless Monday" a plug in its interoffice newsletter this week, stating that employees could help the planet out by joining the effort to go vegetarian on Monday "while dining at our cafeterias." And who woulda thunk, but the little shout-out for Mother Earth earned the government department a gigantic, carnivorous backlash.

The specific blurb that may have rocked the boat read:

The production of meat, especially beef, has a large environmental impact. ... animal agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gases and climate change. It also wastes resources.

Not sure how you can argue with that, but some people chose to. Like Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley who tweeted:

Shame USDA. I will eat more meat on Monday to compensate for stupid USDA recommendation abt a meatless Monday.

And Iowa Rep. Steve King, who also chimed in via Twitter:

USDA HQ meatless Mondays!! At the Dept. of Agriculture? Heresy! I’m not grazing there. I will have the double rib-eye Mondays instead.

Sadly, it seems like all this bullying actually caused the USDA to bow down and retract their suggestion, stating that the "USDA does not endorse Meatless Monday" and noting that the plug was "posted without proper clearance." Puhhleeease.

How totally nuts! There's no reason going meatless should ever be a point of contention. Vegetarianism -- even once a week! -- is a totally valid choice for many different reasons, including health, personal preference, and the environment. To twist this and make it out to be a "slap in the face" to the meat industry is just plain delusional. What's more, the USDA is tasked with promoting all agricultural products ... as in meat, yes, but also fruits and veggies! Why shouldn't they promote those products and those farmers just as much as the guys who serve up beef and poultry? Hrrumph!

Guess this brouhaha just serves as further proof that politics and our food supply is inextricably linked -- whether we like it or not.

Is this completely crazy or what?!

Image via Paul Keller/Flickr



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nonmember avatar Lilianne

I'm all for Meatless Monday's! Everyone is over reacting, those rep's are just trying to get some publicity.

Aeris... AerisKate

This is the age of overreactions it seems.  People get so upset these days over things and are so nasty about it.   I try to have several meatless meals a week in part because it's cheaper!!!

BusyM... BusyMom7789

I have been doing meatless Mondays for years plus another day a week we also go without meat.  What's the big deal?

Maevelyn Maevelyn

Ummm... how about the fact that most people eat too much meat and it ends up rotting in their intestines before they can digest it. I'm Catholic so I grew up with abstaining from meat during lent on Fridays. Because everyone in my house loved fish we went full vegetarian to avoid missing the point of lent lol. It never hurt me to skip meat and honestly there are plenty of yummy veggie dishes I don't feel the need to cook meat every night as it is. WTF Senator? We're supposed to make health and environmental decisions based on what's good for the meat industry. Maybe if people say we're avoiding meat for reasons 1-4 and it impacts their bottom line they'll make some changes. Isn't that how a free market system works? 

jessi... jessicasmom1

Hey I am all for meatless monday 

Betwe... BetweenCourses

If that's what you want, fine. Me? We eat meat/fish/poultry at almost every meal. Why? They stay full when they eat protein and I refuse to serve soy/tofu to my children.

nonmember avatar zizzler

I can't imagine eating meat at every meal, every day. How do people even accomplish that? Where I live, decent chicken (not from a walmart factory) is $30/lb, so yeah, we don't eat a lot of meat! Which is funny because our family also owns a butcher shop, so although we've moved to far to get meat from it, meat is WELL known to us. I looove indian food and most of it is vegetarian (with chickpeas), and I hate making meatballs so our spagetti is also veg. Are people putting bacon on their kids' PBJs or something? LOL meat is easy to scale back on!

bills... billsfan1104

Or how about PETA doing a countdown to when Senator Grassley dies? Where is your outrage on that?

PonyC... PonyChaser

Oh, I love Iowa!! Way to go, Senators! USDA is there to promote ALL of the industries. So if they want to promote "meatless monday", fine. As long as they're promoting meat another day. And what the heck? "Wastes resources"? How? By feeding the cows that feed a country?

@Maevelyn, if meat is "rotting in your intestines", perhaps you should see a doctor, as the digestion process begins with the saliva in your mouth and continues as food passes through the stomach. If it's sitting in your intestines and "rotting", you've got some serious health issues going on there, sweetie.

@Zizzler - where do you live? Chicken is $30/pound? Please tell me that's a typo, and you meant $3 a pound. Because otherwise, whoever it is that's supplying your butcher shop is really pulling one over on you...

JiggyOz JiggyOz

I think the point is not that going meatless one day per week is bad for you, but rather that it should be a personal choice and not some political game that these organizations are playing with us.  

If you really take an honest look, there are some malevolent concepts lurking behind the green movement.  I don't think most people who are environmentally conscious believe this, but when you boil it all down to its most basic idea, it is that "human = bad."  

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