'Meatless Monday'? How about a no-cute-campaigns year?
My colleague Carla Hall and I see eye-to-eye on many things, but on some issues, we see something more like drumstick-to-lentils. That is to say, we couldn't have disagreed more on the Los Angeles City Council's call to residents to go meatless on Mondays as a way to lose weight, eat more healthfully and help the environment. She loved the idea. I rolled my eyes, and we agreed on dueling blog posts. Gentle resolution or not, from my perspective, the council went over the line on this one. Yes, this is just a suggestion. But you have to wonder where the council members get the idea that their particular view of diet, nutrition and the environment is the one to put forth as official if voluntary policy. Is it more healthful for the city to chow down on plates of white-flour pasta? Most dietitians would tell us no. Sodaless Saturdays make a lot more sense than Meatless Mondays. Sugar, especially in soft drinks, is heavily implicated in obesity. Unlike meat, it offers little satiety and no real nutrition. And think of what we could do for the environment if for one day each week, everyone drank water — preferably in refillable bottles — instead. Think of the cans, bottles and super-sized cups that wouldn't be tossed in the garbage. Think of the genetically engineered corn that wouldn't be purchased for the production of high-fructose corn syrup. Think of the monarch butterflies that might live if Roundup weren't sprayed so heavily on Roundup-Ready corn, killing the milkweed on which the monarch caterpillars depend. (A recent study found a correlation between bioengineered corn and the intensive use of Roundup on the dramatically reduced population of monarchs in the Midwest.) I hope this isn't giving anyone bright ideas.It's the amount of meat people eat, not how many or which days they eat it, that plays a role in their health and weight. It's the quality of meat they're willing to spring for that determines how humanely livestock are kept. And it is not the city council's job to promote vegetarianism, if that is one of the goals. There are many philosophies and traditions of healthful eating, including vegetarianism; it's not government's job to promote one over the other. Just think of all the alliterative campaigns the council could advance in future food resolutions; one for each day of the week. Tofu-free Tuesdays, anyone?