The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) was at the center of a brief firestorm this week after a newsletter endorsing the “Meatless Monday” semi-vegetarian campaign appeared on the agency’s website. Agricultural-state Senators were not amused, and the USDA quickly backtracked.
We could use this as an opportunity to defend agriculture against debunked charges that modern practices harm the environment. Maybe we could draw attention to everyone’s least favorite animal-killing vegans, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, for taking informal bets on when Iowa Senator Charles Grassley will die. (Good taste has never been PETA’s strong suit.) Instead, we’ll just examine the origins of the “Meatless Monday” campaign.
The campaign was endowed by the foundation of upper-crust New York socialite Helaine Lerner, who has funded numerous animal-rights and environmentalist campaigns. In addition to financing the Meatless Monday project, Lerner also provided the cash that fueled the “GRACE Factory Farm Project,” dedicated to ending modern livestock practices that have made agriculture more efficient. The so-called Johns Hopkins “Center for a Livable Future” backed the Meatless Monday campaign. Of course, that might have had something to do with Lerner’s foundation seeding the Center.
Even with the USDA’s retraction, the Center for a Livable Future isn’t the only group trying to give “Miserable Monday” a new meaning. Everyone’s least favorite vegan group that doesn’t run a single pet shelter, the Humane Society of the United States, which partnered with Lerner on an anti-medical research campaign, also promotes Meatless Monday as a waypoint to meatless every-days. And the intellectual engine behind the territorial expansion of New York’s soda ban to Massachusetts called the campaign “a great thing to do.”
We’ll also warn New Yorkers that Johns Hopkins is home to the Bloomberg School of Public Health—with Prohibition the new “New York state of mind,” perhaps New Yorkers should start stockpiling pastrami alongside cola before their mayor gets any ideas. The last thing anybody needs is a new cause for a “case of the Mondays.”