Meat Industry: Meatless Monday Threatens Our Way of Life

Last Updated Oct 27, 2009 12:40 PM EDT

Oh dear. Apparently the Baltimore public school system is forcing all of its students to go vegan and chant "meat is murder" before and after every class.

No, wait, what was that? I'm sorry, I got that wrong. In fact, the schools have merely adopted Meatless Monday, meaning that one day a week, there is no meat on the menu in the school cafeteria, with the goal of cutting costs and promoting student health.

Outrageous! The American Meat Institute is referring to it as "indoctrination" and the Animal Agriculture Alliance is urging people to write letters "to ensure this effort does not spread."

I'm a little bit confused by this strategy. It doesn't seem... smart. Especially given that CNN was unable to find any Baltimore parents who were opposed to Meatless Monday.

The rest of the food industry is responding to the obesity crisis with a gentle push for balance, talking about things like how if you eat sensibly and get exercise, it's perfectly okay to enjoy a Coca-Cola once in awhile. That sounds reasonable, right? Much more so than basically screaming, "NO! If you offer vegetarian chili and grilled cheese sandwiches one day a week, the terrorists win!"

Okay, the meat industry is trying to sound reasonable. "I am not suggesting that every child be forced to eat meat every day," the American Meat Institute's Janet Riley said on CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight. "What I am suggesting is that children and parents should have the ability to choose what they want to eat."

Right, because having meat-based options four out of five days is simply not enough of a "choice." AMI also voiced concerns that children will not get enough protein -- apparently unaware that protein can be found anywhere other than meat. And finally, there's the "indoctrination" bit -- AMI worries that Meatless Monday will promote the idea that overconsumption of meat is bad for human health and the planet. Which would be oh-so-tragic, if not for the fact that overconsumption of meat is bad for human health and the planet.

If the meat industry wants to maintain any credibility in the long run, I think it would be much better off promoting meat as an enjoyable part of a balanced diet rather than trying to pretend it should be the basis of every single meal.

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  • Katherine Glover