Sunday, July 29, 2012

Today is Meatless Monday

Today Is Meatless Monday

Remember, today is Meatless Monday.

Didn’t you get the message from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)?

The USDA’s internal, interoffice newsletter online “Greening Headquarters Update” suggested a number of ways to green the building and operations. One of which was “One simple way to reduce your environmental impact while dining at our cafeterias is to participate in the ‘Meatless Monday’ initiative,” quoting the United Nations that “Animal agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gases and climate change.”

Meatless Monday started about a decade ago as an international campaign by Meatless Monday, Inc. and the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health’s Center For a Livable Future. It has caught on as a voluntary 
 programs with thousands of cafeterias, dining halls, and restaurants offering meatless options on Monday.

It is based on a set of nutritional guidelines issued by USDA. The goals are to reduce our risks of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity, as well as reducing our carbon footprint.

The health risks are well known, but let us also remember that red meat is an essential source of protein.

How though does Meatless Monday tie into our carbon footprint?

Miss Piggy, Ferdinand the Bull. Elsie the Cow, the Billy goat, and Mary’s little lamb generate methane when they burp and carbon dioxide when they exhale. Animal flatulence is a major producer of greenhouse gases. Every cow produces about ½ lb daily of methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas.

According to a 2006 United Nations report the meat industry generates more greenhouse gasses than all the SUV’s, cars, trucks, planes and ships combined. Farm animals contribute about 18% of the world’s greenhouse gases.

Termites, those ubiquitous, hard to destroy, destructive termites are also a major generator of greenhouse gases.

We could, and undoubtedly some in the name of public health and global warming wish to mandate, go totally vegan, and slaughter all our farm animals. I see that on the agenda for some zealots.

It would not though solve the animals as a cause of global warming. We forget about the thundering herds of millions of herbivores in Africa, the water buffalo, wildebeests, zebras, gazelles, and impalas, not to mention the hippos, that roam the African plains.

Several groups, the President, and the EPA are similarly trying to effectively ban coal to save the world, while China is increasing its coal burning facilities faster than we can shutter ours.

Coal and cattle – two sources of greenhouse gasses to be eliminated by some in the current administration.

If someone wants to go vegan, become a vegetarian, go meatless on Monday or Fridays or any other day, try the Atkins Diet, Scarsdale Diet, Slim-Fast, Weight Watchers, the South Beach Diet, Mediterranean Diet, NutriSystems, or McDonalds, or any other, that’s fine. It’s a matter of personal choice.

If restaurants wish to offer a variety of menu options, high and low cholesterol, high calorie or low calorie, meat or meatless, gluten or gluten free, sugared or sugar free, salted or low salt, that’s their choice in a competitive marketplace.

However, when the government, especially a department whose primary role is to promote agriculture, takes a shot at a major agricultural industry, then that reflects a mindset antithetical  that of most Americans. It is yet another sign, albeit small and subtle, that this administration is not representative of the people.

Some day, in the name of the public health and reducing healthcare costs, they will try to mandate Meatless Mondays.

Someone at USDA forgot, or never knew, that what is regarded as “flyover” country by some on the two coasts is The Farm Belt. Agriculture includes ranching. Every Farm Belt state has two United States Senators, and they control the budget of USDA.

A veritable political ton of road apples was unleashed on USDA.

The reaction was immediate, and within a few hours the online posting was removed. The explanation given was that the Meatless Monday suggestion was included “without proper clearance.”

Today is Meatless Monday. Feel free to eat as you please.

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