Encouraging your employees to go vegetarian one day a week might not seem like that big of a deal — unless you’re the United States Department of Agriculture, the agency tasked with promoting all agriculture products, including meat. The USDA said a post about “Meatless Monday” on its website was from an internal newsletter that went up without proper clearance.
The posting this week discussed how staff can reduce their environmental impact while dining at the USDA cafeteria, and referred to United Nations data that cites animal agriculture as a major source of greenhouse gases and climate change.
It read, in part:
“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.”
“Meatless Monday” is a global campaign that was started by the School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. It aims to reduce meat consumption 15 percent “to improve your personal health and the health of the planet.”
The posting was taken down a few hours after the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association denounced it in a news release, calling the “Meatless Monday” campaign “an animal rights extremist campaign to ultimately end meat consumption” in a statement on the group’s website.
Once a USDA spokeswoman said the department doesn’t endorse the Meatless Monday initiative, the beef association thanked it for “swift action in pulling this disparaging statement off its website,” notes Politico. While the original posting has been taken down, the newsletter can still be viewed here.
Pro-meat Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa wasn’t happy with the USDA and has vowed to up his meat consumption in protest, tweeting:
“Shame USDA. One has to wonder whether the Dept of Ag supports Iowa farmers since it is promoting ‘meatless Monday’ for USDA employees. I will eat more meat on Monday to compensate for stupid USDA recommendation abt a meatless Monday.”
His fellow Iowan, Representative Steve King tweeted his love of meat as well:
“USDA HQ meatless Mondays!! At the Dept. of Agriculture? Heresy! I’m not grazing there. I will have the double rib-eye Mondays instead.”