Right-Wing, Industry Pressure Forces USDA To Withdraw Support For Meatless Monday

The USDA recently gave suggestions to its employees for simple ways to reduce their environmental impact. One of the suggestions was trying out Meatless Monday, an attempt to avoid eating meat once a week. This provoked a full-on freakout from the beef industry and its Republican allies in Congress: “This move by USDA should be condemned by anyone who believes agriculture is fundamental to sustaining life on this planet,” hyperventilated National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President J.D. Alexander. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) took to Twitter to express his outrage at the non-endorsement, promising to “eat more meat on Monday” and claiming that “My local steak house serves nothing but vegetarian bc cows are vegetarian.” Congressman Steve King (R-IA) called the internal guidance “heresy,” looking forward to “double rib-eye Mondays instead.”

The USDA bowed to the pressure, saying it “does not endorse Meatless Monday” and that the newsletter “was posted without proper clearance.” It shouldn’t have. Despite what the beef industry may tell you, Meatless Monday is a simple and nearly cost-free way to get healthier, fight global warming, and cease participating in brutal animal cruelty:

  • Skipping steak once a week would reduce an average four-person family’s carbon footprint by roughly the same amount as giving up driving for 3 months, according to an analysis by the Environmental Working Group. If each American were to give up meat and cheese once week, EWG estimated it would be the equivalent of “taking 7.6 million cars off the road.”
  • Amidst a growing childhood obesity problem and tightening budgets, schools around the country have found Meatless Monday to be a cost-effective way to improve student health.
  • Significant meat consumption is correlated with higher rates of obesity.
  • An extraordinary percentage of the cheap meat Americans buy come from factory farms, which are notorious for producing contaminated meat and keeping animals in utterly horrific conditions.
  • Indeed, Americans appear to be getting the message: meat consumption in the United States has decreased by 12.2 percent, a trend seemingly related to high public awareness of the Meatless Monday movement.