On July 23 in its monthly Greening Headquarters Update to employees, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) endorsed “Meatless Monday”—a global, non-profit initiative “to start each week with healthy, environmentally friendly meat-free alternatives,” started by The Monday Campaigns, in association with the Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH).
The project’s ultimate goal is to help people reduce their meat consumption by 15 percent to improve individual health and the overall health of the planet. Ideally, the benefits will extend even farther. “By cutting out meat once a week, we can improve our health, reduce our carbon footprint and lead the world in the race to reduce climate change,” MeatlessMonday.com states.
The movement claims a number of high-profile supporters like Oprah, Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi, Sir Paul McCartney, former Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts, Al Gore, director James Cameron, entrepreneur and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, American Idol’s Simon Cowell, actress Denise Richards, actor and environmental crusader Ed Begley Jr.—and even Mario Batali, renowned for his predilection for cured pork.
Shortly after the USDA recommended its employees try some of the meat-free options in the USDA cafeterias to reduce environmental impact and the “many health concerns related to the excessive consumption of meat,” the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and related publications cast a wave of harsh criticism on the department. “Within hours of the NCBA’s statement, the USDA pulled the Greening Headquarters Update from their website and issued a retraction via Twitter,” states a Meatless Monday media release.
The Monday Campaigns and JHSPH reacted to the USDA’s decision by expressing their disappointment, and emphasizing that reducing meat intake helps achieve two key recommendations in the USDA Dietary Guidelines—cutting down on saturated fat and increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables.
“Since the major sources of saturated fat in the American diet are meat and dairy products, cutting out meat one day a week is an easy way to help Americans reach both the USDA’s and the Surgeon General’s Healthy People 2020 goals for saturated fat reduction” noted Dr. Robert Lawrence, director of the Center for a Livable Future at JHSPH.
Check out more Meatless Monday recommended recipes here.
View the USDA’s original endorsement here: