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Focus on Agriculture

February 20, 2012

Meaty Mondays

By Stewart Truelsen

A full breakfast of bacon or ham and eggs is a good way to start out the work week. Eat a steak, pork or lamb chop for supper and suddenly, Mondays aren’t so bad. The protein you’re getting from the meat will help you make it through the week. Call it Meaty Monday, if you like.

Of course, you may know that some organizations have staked out Monday as a “meat-free” day and called it Meatless Monday. Perhaps we should be persuaded to move our appetite for meat to the next day, Tuesday. Wednesday already is taken; it’s spaghetti day thanks to Prince, the company that used the idea in an advertising slogan.

The Meatless Monday campaign is the brainchild of an ad man, Sid Lerner, who had a long, successful career on Madison Avenue. Lerner is best known for his Charmin toilet paper campaign, “Don’t Squeeze the Charmin.”

According to an interview he did with National Public Radio, Lerner still eats meat, just not on Monday. He had an epiphany some years ago when a doctor told him his cholesterol and blood pressure were too high and his diet was part of the problem.

Lerner’s father had died of heart disease so he was at risk no matter what. Heredity is a high risk factor. Other risk factors would have included his advancing age, male gender, stress, and yes, his diet. His high cholesterol could have been hereditary, however.

No one can fault Lerner for listening to his doctor and taking the steps he deemed necessary to protect his health, but it’s a big stretch for Lerner to say that everyone in this country should follow his lead and cut back on eating meat.

As expected, other groups and individuals with various anti-meat agendas have jumped on the Meatless Monday campaign. An environmentalist with the Pacific Institute claimed that cutting back on meat consumption would mean a big savings in water usage.

According to him, it takes 140,000 bathtubs full of water to feed cows to produce a ton of beef. If we wanted to save even more bathtubs full of water, we should go back to taking baths only on Saturdays. Saturday night used to be bath night. At the very least, we could all take shorter showers and save a lot of water. It’s ridiculous to associate water conservation with Meatless Monday.

The meatless organizers also have tried to tie the current campaign to patriotic campaigns of the past to conserve food. They have absolutely nothing in common. During World War I, Americans were asked to sign a pledge not to eat meat on Tuesday. They also gave up wheat products on Wednesday. Food was spared in order to make sure American troops fighting in Europe had enough to eat.


Stewart Truelsen is a regular contributor to Focus on Agriculture and is the author of a book marking the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 90th anniversary.