Wednesday, August 01, 2012

USDA advocates, then denounces, vegetarian diet

As Mark Bittman reports in the New York Times, an internal newsletter at the USDA (“Greening Headquarters Update”, July 23, 2012) promoted not only “meatless Mondays” but even vegetarianism:
One simple way to reduce your environmental impact while dining at our cafeterias is to participate in the “Meatless Monday” initiative http://www.meatlessmonday.com/. This international effort, as the name implies, encourages people not to eat meat on Mondays. Meatless Monday is an initiative of The Monday Campaign Inc. in association with the John Hopkins School of Public Health.

How will going meatless one day of the week help the environment? The production of meat, especially beef (and dairy as well), has a large environmental impact. According to the U.N., animal agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gases and climate change. It also wastes resources. It takes 7,000 kg of grain to make 1,000 kg of beef. In addition, beef production requires a lot of water, fertilizer, fossil fuels, and pesticides. In addition there are many health concerns related to the excessive consumption of meat. While a vegetarian diet could have a beneficial impact on a person’s health and the environment, many people are not ready to make that commitment. Because Meatless Monday involves only one day a week, it is a small change that could produce big results.
Cowed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the USDA has renounced those facts and suppressed the newsletter. The NCBA complained that the USDA “does not understand the efforts being made in rural America to produce food and fiber for a growing global population in a very sustainable way”. Bittman notes
that meat is not fiber, that its industrial-style production is not sustainable by any normal definition, and that “agriculture” produces the food “Meatless Monday” advocates eat, too.
The only possible good that might come of the USDA's brief airing of the truth, if not their subsequent caving to corporatist pressure, is that reactionaries like Senator Charles Grassley and Representative Steve King, both of Iowa, have promised to hasten their own demises by doubling down on their corpse consumption every Monday.

environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights, vegetarianism, anarchism, ecoanarchism