Respond to Meatless Mondays

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On Thursday, AgriTalk host Mike Adams spoke with Animal Agriculture Alliance Executive Vice President Kay Johnson Smith about the concerns with the Meatless Monday campaign.

Adams said, “A recent poll found over 50 percent of Americans are aware of this campaign, up from 30 percent six months ago. More concerning is that 27 percent in that poll said the campaign has influenced their decision to eat less meat one day a week.”

“The campaign has been around for a number of years but in last year and half has picked up more steam because marketers have been promoting it more and bringing in new and different arguments to support their case,” Johnson said. “However, there is a lot of misinformation being provided to the public because the organization behind the campaign is animal-rights oriented and would like to see meatless meals seven days a week, not just Mondays.”

Johnson adds that the campaign has a two-pronged approach. At first it was just eliminating meat for so-called health reasons with animal rights agenda behind it, but now it’s being tied to environmental issues to further attack the animal ag industry. Unfortunately this, too, is based on a lot of false information, she said.

“In secondary and elementary schools it’s more of a program to add alternatives to meat, though some alternatives include macaroni and cheese or grilled cheese, so it’s different than meat, but not necessarily animal-free,” she explained. “The concern is mainly the agenda that is behind the campaign more than the concern that alternatives are being offered on the menu.”

The Animal Agriculture Alliance has been coordinating efforts to gather resources for people concerned with this campaign. “We are concerned that more school districts are promoting it to kids; kids are potentially not making right decisions regarding their protein needs,” Johnson told Adams. “They may be choosing alternatives that doesn’t mean they are necessarily healthier. If some districts opt out of offer any sort of animal protein and this may be only meal some kids get during the day that includes protein, so there are a lot of concerns.”

If a school district appears to be promoting a meatless day, that sends a signal that they are in favor or promoting it as being good, and misinformation can form around it. “From a nutritional standpoint there is nothing that supports the elimination of meat and poultry products from the diet,” Johnson stated. “Meat/animal protein is the one area that the consumers are not overeating.” Unfortunately, if schools promote this to students, students may buy in and they don’t understand the nutritional consequences if they are not including protein in the diet.

“We need farmers and ranchers to celebrate that animal protein is an important part of diet and provide information to their local schools and universities about the need for protein in the diet and making informed choices, not just buying into it because it sounds good or popular and trendy,” Johnson suggested. “I encourage all stakeholders and the public to download this information because there is need to correct the information that is being put out there.”

How you can get informed

On the Animal Agriculture Alliance Web site under Current Issues there is a Meatless Mondays tab with many resources for agricultural partners that they can download on why meat is important, meat and nutrition resource guides, talking points about Meatless Mondays they can share with school systems, and other information they can provide locally to their schools and universities. There is also information on agricultural production including animal care and the environment. These materials are all downloadable and free.

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Terry Ward    
Pa.  |  September, 09, 2011 at 10:02 AM

Maybe you might want to run the "so-called health reasons" thing by my husband's heart surgeon. That should work well.

Bea Elliott    
Florida  |  September, 09, 2011 at 06:55 PM

Yeah... My husband too! For 2 years he's managing his cholesterol without the drugs and is as trim now as the day I met him 20 years ago. The "so-called health reasons" keep adding up don't they? ;)

Janet Weeks    
Sacramento  |  September, 09, 2011 at 07:29 PM

Climate change, global poverty, increasing rates of obesity, and substandard animal welfare are all issues that we can address right now. Meatless Monday aims to encourage school communities [and others] to reduce their meat and fish consumption in order to help achieve the following goals: improve students' health; protect the environment; fight world hunger; help animals; and, by participating in Meatless Monday, students will better understand how the choices that they make today will affect them (and future generations) tomorrow. Go Meatless on Monday and any other day of the week to continue reaping the benefits listed above.

Terry Ward    
pa.  |  September, 09, 2011 at 08:37 PM

Bea, that is so wonderful to hear. You two keep up the great work!

Dr Richard Twine    
Lancaster  |  September, 10, 2011 at 06:58 AM

I haven't eaten meat in 19 years. I recently ran my 2nd ever 10k road race in 50 mins and 34 seconds. The above article contains *MUCH MISINFORMATION* itself. It conveniently forgets the MANY non-animal sources of protein. Dr Richard Twine

Class of '69    
Hoth  |  September, 12, 2011 at 12:02 PM

You say that Americans need animal protein, but disregard that dairy (in grilled cheese and macaroni) HAS animal protein. And like Dr. Twine said, there are thousands of edible plants that contain protein out there. Also, animal agriculture is an environmental disaster and uses *tons* of our resources. To claim that Americans eating less meat is bad for the environment is as ridiculous as stating that the earth is flat.

Mick Shackle    
Iowa City  |  September, 14, 2011 at 01:03 PM

Everyone needs to make a living, but do you really need to do it in a way that harms others? You know that the major cause of diabetes, heart problems, high cholesterol is meat and dairy (there's no cholesterol in plant products). Follow your conscience! You wouldn't want your parents', your children's, and your own health jeopardized so why promote something that's harmful. Leave that to cigarette companies. Read the story of Howard Lyman, the former cattle rancher:

jean public    
nj  |  September, 14, 2011 at 02:01 PM

meatless mondsys are a wondeful idea. vegetables are so much better for people. all the cardiologists swear by that diet.

Ms Alabama    
Alabama USA  |  September, 14, 2011 at 02:12 PM

And where do the animals get THEIR protein? Why is protein only protein if it is derived from animal flesh? Answer these questions, Animal Agriculture Alliance Executive Vice President Kay Johnson Smith.

Baton Rouge  |  September, 14, 2011 at 04:24 PM

It's insane, the amount of wrongly stated information that is on the internet. I'd like to see even 1/4 of this article backed up with scientific evidence. To the writer of this article, please refrain from posting until you have done your research and preferably tried an animal free diet to see what it does to your cholesterol levels and how you can thrive from plant based proteins better than we ever could eating meat. We live in an age of knowledge, please learn to use it.

Miami, FL  |  September, 14, 2011 at 09:37 PM

“From a nutritional standpoint there is nothing that supports the elimination of meat and poultry products from the diet,” ??? Really? How about the position paper of the American Dietetic Association which clearly states that a plant-based diet is not only adequate for all stages of the life cycle (pregnancy, infancy, childhood, etc.) but that it also provides benefits in the prevention and treatment of the top killer diseases (heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes, cancer). And yes, you are right, I do care A LOT that animals are being tortured by the billions each year unnecessarily and that the WorldWatch Institute places animal agriculture as accounting for 51% of climate change.

charles greenberg    
woodway, WA  |  September, 14, 2011 at 10:33 PM

this article is beyond ridiculous! the meat industry would give you this horrifically cruel, unbelievably unhealthy, pollution and global warming product that causes all of these unimaginable health problems. What is their response: there is need to correct the information that is being put out there." utterly pathetic

Chicago, IL  |  September, 14, 2011 at 10:50 PM

Of course I did not expect anything less of the Animal Agriculture Alliance. Meatless Monday is a threat to there business. I add, there business of cruelty to animals and to the environment! One day out of 7 days in a week. Many other protein sources available. I am vegan and very proud of it. Most of my co-workers are now involved in Meatless Monday, and I am very very proud!

Madison  |  September, 15, 2011 at 12:57 PM

It's really quite amazing--but never surprising--how irrational people become when promoting their own financial self-interests. There is virtually no convincing argument for animal agriculture with the exception that animal foods taste good. That is it. That is the only reason anyone could possibly give that one would be unable to counter. Everything else is supported overwhelmingly by the scientific evidence (i.e. see

NJ  |  September, 16, 2011 at 12:15 PM

Two-meat Tuesday

central California  |  September, 16, 2011 at 11:01 PM

A couple in my area have been hosting Meatless Mondays for $7. We have to RSVP in advance because they are always fully booked, and we live in a rural area. My husband and I are veg, but 80% of the attendees are not vegetarian...except on Mondays. A few of the non-veg people are now eating veg most of the time due to the health benefits, like reduced LDL cholesterol, etc.

Maxine Jones    
Midland, SD  |  September, 19, 2011 at 09:58 PM

It would be interesting to know how many of the comments here were generated by anti-meat organizations directing their folks to counter attack 'the meat industry'. FACT: the vast majority, around 98%, of farmers in the USA are FAMILY owned and staffed. Average return on the investment in a farm is between 1.5% and 4%. Now, figure out how much money you would have to invest in a farm to make a viable living. Then add the daylight to dark, and after, year round that is required to raise food animals in all kinds of weather. It is NOT the huge financial boon some seem to imagine. Most animal ag producers love what we do, or would not tolerate the sweat and tears involved in such a hard career. We enjoy caring for land and animals. Conservation and general improvement of the land is an absolute necessity to raising high quality cattle. Many of previous posts against raising food animals demand facts, yet their arguments are nearly completely devoid of facts! Amazing what people will say to denigrate whole segments of society (meat eaters) and careers (food production) to support their own choice of animal worship as a religion.

Class of '69    
September, 21, 2011 at 10:24 AM

What dose "family owned" mean? It sounds like you are trying to imply that it is small-scale farms that have the animals best interests in mind, but that is not the case at all. The numbers are there if you look for them. The majority of meat comes from CAFOs (factory farms). What does it matter if it's "family owned"?

Georgia Smith    
Pennsylvania  |  September, 23, 2011 at 11:46 AM

This is very distressing to know that innocent people are being misinformed to the risk of their health by the Animal Ag. business just so this business can continue to make money on animal abuse. They don't care about any one's health, only making money... Meatless Mondays are a good thing to teach your children.

Tucson, AZ  |  September, 27, 2011 at 06:01 PM

If the meat industry were half the company it claims it is, we wouldn't have to worry about Meatless Mondays. If it were the wholesome, down-home, family- and health-oriented organization it wants us to believe it is, it would truthfully tell us that too much protein is bad for our health; it would tell us honestly that animal fat contains high levels of cholesterol and saturated fats and that we should not have meat at every meal; it would process meat animals with as little suffering for the animals as possible; it would not strive to sell inexpensive meat at the expense of the consumer; it would not pollute our air and waterways with toxic runoff from farms whose animals are so sick that their waste is deadly; it would recognize that, by trying to get meat on every American's plate, it is causing the rest of the world to go hungry; it would pay the farm owners their fair share instead of trying to sell meat at a lower and lower price; it would see that forests and otherwise productive lands are being decimated to make room for animals and buildings that give nothing back to the earth; it would acknowledge that diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and many of the other non-communicable diseases of our nation are the result of over-consumption of animal protein and animal products. But it's not the industry it wants us to think it is. It knows all this, and more, yet it still sells us the fairy-tale picture of an old, down-home-style farm. And it does this because it makes a hefty profit off our ignorance. Meatless Mondays is the least we can do to stop supporting this cruel, greedy beast.

D Miller    
Pennsylvania  |  October, 03, 2011 at 09:33 AM

Meatless Mondays are just a component of trying to encourage moderation in food intake. It does advocate for a hard vegetarian POV. I agree with the others that quality protein does not have to come from meat--some plant protein sources are far higher quality proteins than meat. Please look it up before you argue--you will be surprized at the low protein quality (PDCAAS) scores for beef etc.

Maxine Jones    
Midland, SD  |  November, 11, 2011 at 03:00 PM

What do those of you who claim there is over consumption of 'animal' proteins believe the average daily consumption is in the USA?

iowa  |  November, 17, 2011 at 03:17 PM

most of these comments are obviously from bitter vegans who want everyone to stop eating animals. to the doctor who ran 50 minutes in the 10k that is almost 9 minutes a mile. Very pedestrian. I am in my 50's and can easily eclipse that time and have not run a 10k in decades,sp maybe you need some heme iron. I have actually seen quite a few womens cross country runners who went vegan and are struggling with anemia. They go vegan to drop alot of weight quickly. Hmmmm sounds like a bit of disorder. Did you know that in the first hundred years of the tour de france there was never a rider who completed it without eating meat? Finally one rider managed it last year, he was not the winner by any means. far back. all you people slamming meat and animal agriculture read something on the internet and assume it is true. Newsflash, it isnt in fact a study used to support anti animal agriculture theories has recently been pulled by the university as it admitted their"facts" were not quite as factual as presented. Mainly that they measure the carbon footprint of raising animals alot more extensively than the other industries they used in comparison. When asked the author said the other industries such as transportation had such a high carbon footprint it was impossible to quantify so he gave them a much smaller number. Making animal agriculture appear to be much higher in comparison. these facts were rescinded by the author as well as the university as innaccurrate. I doubt any of you would disallow them although the people conducting the study did.

Texas  |  January, 04, 2012 at 07:02 PM

Canada  |  January, 04, 2012 at 08:04 PM

"More concerning is that 27 percent in that poll said the campaign has influenced their decision to eat less meat one day a week.” Deeply, deeply, concerning facts. People considering eating less meat. HORROR.