‘Meatless Mondays:’ Pros, cons (Editorial)

(Feb. 9, 2015) “Meatless Monday” was founded in 2003.
It claims to be an international campaign that “encourages people to not eat meat on Mondays to improve their health and the health of the planet.”
How so?
Because, its activist supporters argue, going meatless once a week “may reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. And going meatless once a week can also help reduce our carbon footprint and save precious resources like fossil fuels and fresh water.”
That covers a lot of territory — from your health to climate change to, for instance, cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay.
It hints strongly at a vegan or vegetarian diet but goes well beyond that into an environmental catch-all.
Meatless Mondays are now being challenged by the Animal Agriculture Alliance which. is debuting its Meat Matters campaign which focuses on “promoting the role of meat and poultry in a healthy, balanced diet.”
The Meat Matters initiative, according to a press release last week, “counters claims made by activist groups about the nutritional value of animal protein, as well as the sustainability of meat and poultry production.”
“We’ve heard a lot of concern over the years from our members about activists pushing the ‘Meatless Mondays’ movement in their local schools and communities,” said Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance president and CEO. “This misleading movement is another tactic to eliminate consumer choice — the ability that we each have to determine the right food choices for ourselves and our families.”
“It’s easy to find celebrities and other public figures who are very public about their choice to follow vegetarian or vegan diets,” said Hannah Thompson, Alliance communications director. “Unfortunately, we don’t hear as much from meat-eaters, who make up the vast majority of the population. We want to help people feel confident about their choice to include meat and poultry in their diet.”
The Animal Agriculture Alliance is an industry-united, nonprofit organization that helps bridge the communication gap between farm and fork.
Tucked into its concerns, with its implied encouragement to keep chicken off your shopping list, are the on-going attacks on the poultry industry.
They emerge in a variety of forms, the latest focusing not on the meat but on what the birds leave behind.
There is a quotation attributed to Herbert Hoover in 1928, at the gateway to the Great Depression, in which he promised to a hungry nation “a chicken in every pot.”
My, how we have changed.