A veritable dream team of food activists pooled their best efforts today in one whopper of a press release. Possibly encouraged by the fact that President Obama caved to activists begging for a White House garden, vegetable enthusiasts are now asking the Commander-in-Chief to endorse national “Meatless Mondays.” But that’s not all. The anti-meat wish list also includes White House-issued recipes and a State Dinner menu overhaul. And to make their case, vegetarian zealots reached deep into their treasure trove of juked stats and bogus claims.
This is not the first we’ve heard of Meatless Mondays. The Johns Hopkins University program has been trying to help animal rights activists hijack Americans’ Monday menus since late 2002. But this time around, Johns Hopkins’ Center for a Livable Future director Robert Lawrence and Meatless Monday president Peggy Neu have recruited a handful of high-profile food activists (such as Marion Nestle) to help boost their chances of a presidential endorsement.
Says activist author Anna Lappe in the release:

[T]he global food system is responsible for as much as one-third of our total greenhouse gas emissions. Livestock alone contributes more to the global warming effect than emissions from the world’s transportation.

Ah, the “cows are worse than Hummers” argument – a pushy vegan classic! But as we told a New York Times blogger last month, the connection between meat production and climate change is grossly exaggerated. American livestock farms, for example, are responsible for less than three percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. (That’s according to the Environmental Protection Agency.) Even globally, the right number is nowhere near one-third.
Exaggerations continue. Today’s release also claims:

Presidents Wilson, Truman and Roosevelt all instituted national meatless days in order to divert food to troops overseas and alleviate worldwide food shortages.

Reality check: Previous presidents counseled “meatless” days out of necessity – not because of a political agenda. Before Americans learned to produce meat with the kind of efficiency that food activists so despise, it was a lot more expensive and hard to come by. Wilson, Truman, and Roosevelt all understood that meat was a net good, not something to be feared. Hence the efforts to distribute animal protein to where it was needed most.
Maybe the Meatless Mondays crew could use a little refresher course in science and history. But for the sake of our dietary freedom, let’s hope President Obama sees this factually-challenged request for what it really is: a cynical attempt to control Americans’ food choices, one Monday day at a time.