This past July, the USDA put out a statement on their blog saying that they support 'Meatless Mondays', a campaign that aims to get Americans to help their health and the environment by abstaining from meat at least one day a week. However, just two days after their public support of the campaign, they backtracked and said that they do not, in fact, support the campaign and that the post on their website was done without the proper clearance. The USDA retracted their statement due to the immediate and forceful backlash from the meat industry, claiming that their support of the meatless campaign was hurting the farmers that depend on their livestock to support their families and employees.
While it's sad, unfortunate, and uniformed for the USDA to backtrack on their support of the campaign, where exactly does that leave them on their stance on Meatless Mondays? Many farmers claim that the damage has been done by the USDA for backing a meatless lifestyle, even if only for a couple of days, and many animal rights and environmental activists will say that it didn't do enough damage to the meat industry.
The USDA originally showed support for the campaign because of environmental reasons and those reasons still existed once they repealed their support. Perhaps their post was revealing the true opinion of the USDA and they were finally trying to move American's in the direction of creating a sustainable planet and food system. However, if the USDA truly does believe that a meatless diet is key to lasting sustainability, then what does it say about them that they retracted due to pressure from the meat industry? That the USDA is so easily persuaded to retract on truthful and necessary statements is disheartening. Folding under the pressure of the meat industry will do nothing to ensure that our food supply does not run out in the foreseeable and that our planet survives rapid climate change.
Even though they do not publicly support the Meatless Monday campaign, it's still good to know that at least some people within the agency are well-informed and it gives us hope that they may one day show support for a necessary shift in our eating habits. Until that happens, you can do your part by Pledging Vegan and eliminating animal products from your diet. If you want to read more on the environmental affects of eating meat, check out The Vegetarian Imperative by Anand Saxena.