Livestock Producers Pressure USDA to Drop Meatless Mondays

By Mat McDermott, TreeHugger

There’s a bigger lesson here than just the absurdity of the situation. But first, the news itself.

The US Department of Agriculture had been promoting the Meatless Monday campaign in an interoffice newsletter, saying, “One simple way to reduce your environmental impact while dining at our cafeterias is to participate in the Meatless Monday initiative.” (New York Times)

The newsletter went on to explain the environmental impact of raising animals for meat:

“The production of meat, especially beef (and dairy as well), has a large environmental impact. According to the UN, animal agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gases and climate change. It also wastes resources. It takes 7000 kg of grain to make 1000 kg of beef.”

For those that don’t know, Meatless Mondays is exactly as it sounds, an initiative aimed at cafeterias, restaurants and schools, as well as individuals, encouraging vegetarian meals one day a week. TreeHugger has covered it a number of times, so read the TreeHugger site for more information.

But apparently, even suggesting that one day a week without meat is one too many for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, as well as Rep. Steve King (R-IA). The former called the USDA recommendation “a slap in the face of the people who every day are working to make sure we have food on the table.”

Reacting to the outrage, the USDA retracted their support, simply saying, “USDA does not endorse Meatless Monday.”

The outrage from the NCBA is to be expected, however misplaced, in that there’s nothing in the USDA dietary suggestion that isn’t accurate from an environmental perspective. Reducing your meat consumption does indeed reduce your environmental impact. Doing so one day a week is a worthy starting point in starting to eat a more environmentally friendly, as well as healthier, diet. A fully meat-free diet is even better, but one day without is better than nothing.

On a broader level, though, the statement from the NCBA is even more tiresome. In its myopic focus solely on the intimated potential impact of people not eating beef one day a week on beef producers, it misses the bigger picture entirely, giving an entirely unnuanced perspective on the impact of beef production.

It’s unfortunately something that every single trade association I’ve encountered does—green product associations too—unquestioningly, zealously promoting their business group, and seldom, if ever, admitting that there could ever be anything wrong (environmentally, socially, medically, what have you) with their product or production method.

Some may argue that this is all to be expected and is even perhaps a good thing, with the truth of the situation resulting from the interplay of opposing debate points. But I’m not so sure.

Rather than working from starting points of confrontation, contradiction and defensiveness—an adversarial approach—why not instead work from a common starting point that recognizes that all the stakeholders in the discussion are part of a larger community (overlapping interdependent communities, actually) in which no position is an absolute, entirely good or bad, incapable of improvement, or without socio-environmental impact.

In this case, that would require livestock producers and their representatives acknowledge that their product has significant environmental impacts, and that from this perspective (as well as a health perspective), eating meat every day is not a good thing. This is the very moderate, reasonable starting position of the Meatless Monday movement. At no time does this position even suggest that livestock producers cease to exist. It merely and meekly requires an acceptance that the optimal level of meat consumption is different from the maximal level.



Meatless Monday Goes Mainstream
The New Vegetarians
Meat Consumption Declining


Betsy M.
Betsy M4 years ago


Tricia Hamilton
Tricia Hamilton4 years ago

These men are freaks. People who buy meat don't even get so way they are kicking them down the ramp, throwing them against walls and doing what ever they want to do to them. Shame on the them & Marilyn YOU ARE AN IDIOT!!

Ewelina Grobelna
Ewelina Grobelna4 years ago

Go Meatless Monday! healthier plus less animals suffering in farms where noone cares how they are treated....

Elizabeth Brawn
Elizabeth Brawn4 years ago

damn it

Melania Padilla
Melania P4 years ago


5 years ago

Kevin, look up *heredity*. It has nothing to do with bad habits or lifestyle.
Now run along and play with your friends like a normal teen.

5 years ago


Eat what you want, and when you get sick in your 30s, don't wonder why....just remember how smart you were at 19.

5 years ago

Yes kevin, that's why we have the right to make the choice....either eat plants exclusively and be forced to take supplements, or eat a naturally nutritionally balanced diet that includes all food groups. The ADA seems to think both can work for some people.

As for amino acids....there are many places where you can learn about them... is just one and I don't see a lot of efficient choices besides animal products.
Of course, one can consume bottles and bottles of Bragg's, but the sodium isn't so healthy, and people would get tired of eating it with everything....just as they wouldn't eat a full cup of flax per day instead of 3 ounces of salmon a couple of times a week to get omega 3s.

You're out of touch with reality and that's a typical teen thing. You'll grow out of it...someday.
In our teens, we think we know everything better than everyone else. It's the same in our 20s. Then in our 30s we think maybe our parents weren't so our 40s, we wonder how our parents could have been so smart. Then in our 50s and 60s we marvel at how much there is left to learn. Then we open our minds with humility and learn more.
After 50, we think about how much better our youth would have been if we knew then what we know now.

Open your mind...there are people trying to teach you something here Kevin..and you're being as dense as a brick wall!

Eat what you want, and when

5 years ago

Vitamin D Deficiency
from this site:

Nutrient deficiencies are usually the result of dietary inadequacy, impaired absorption and use, increased requirement, or increased excretion. A vitamin D deficiency can occur when usual intake is lower than recommended levels over time, exposure to sunlight is limited, the kidneys cannot convert 25(OH)D to its active form, or absorption of vitamin D from the digestive tract is inadequate. Vitamin D-deficient diets are associated with milk allergy, lactose intolerance, ovo-vegetarianism, and veganism [1].

If you read it...this article even states that results from studies are inconclusive due to a variety of other factors.

You can't get enough vitamin D on a veg you HAVE to rely on supplements.
With the Mediterranean diet, you can eat your nutrients the way nature intended.

5 years ago

That's right, studies are biased. The ADA has stated that meat is part of a healthy diet...'s the quote from the pdf Eat Right with which is located at the site for the American Dietetic Association
"Vary your protein choices.
Eat a variety of foods from the protein food group each week, such as seafood, nuts and beans, as well as lean meat, poultry and eggs."

..... but Kevin closes his eyes when those words come up.

The best diet is the one that has withstood the test of time...the Mediterranean diet. That's the best study. It has a balance of nutrients from all food groups and doesn't require the use of artificial chemical supplements or eating copious amounts of a single thing to get the nutrients.