Health 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