USDA Plugs Meatless Mondays, Outrage Ensues

Storm of criticism follows suggestion to employees
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 26, 2012 9:31 AM CDT
USDA Plugs Meatless Mondays, Outrage Ensues
Meat-free ... but not plugged by the USDA.   (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

Who knew an interoffice newsletter could create such drama? The USDA gave "Meatless Monday" a shout-out in its newsletter this week, encouraging its employees to help the planet out by joining the effort to go vegetarian on Monday "while dining at our cafeterias." This did not go over well. The USDA is tasked with promoting all agricultural products—that includes meat—and both lawmakers and livestock producers freaked out. The fallout, per the New York Times and Politico:

  • A portion of the piece that might have offended: "The production of meat, especially beef, has a large environmental impact. ... animal agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gases and climate change. It also wastes resources."
  • From Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, via Twitter: "Shame USDA. I will eat more meat on Monday to compensate for stupid USDA recommendation abt a meatless Monday."
  • From Iowa Rep. Steve King, via Twitter: USDA HQ meatless Mondays!! At the Dept. of Agriculture? Heresy! I’m not grazing there. I will have the double rib-eye Mondays instead."
  • From the National Cattlemen's Beef Association: It's "a slap in the face of the people who every day are working to make sure we have food on the table to say 'Don’t eat their product once a week.'"
  • And now, from the USDA: "USDA does not endorse Meatless Monday," said a rep in a statement, explaining the plug "was posted without proper clearance."
(More Meatless Monday stories.)

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