Last week the Animal Agriculture Alliance announced that they would provide resources to fight Meatless Monday. The resources include Why Meat?, What Makes a Healthy Diet, and The Myth of Meatless Monday.
Why Meat? says “A vegan or vegetarian diet must be carefully monitored and supplements may be required to compensate for the missed opportunity to obtain these nutrients from a natural source.” I think that they forgot that vegetables and fruits are a natural source. The only real problem with a vegan diet is making sure that you get enough B12, which comes from bacteria in bodies of water and soil. Since an animal eats grass they get some B-12-enriched soil. You can either take a supplement of 10 micrograms a day or 2,000 micrograms a week or you can also get B-12 from nutritional yeast. The flyer also talks about “Meat and poultry can be a major source of protein, which is needed for muscle and organ health” with the highest amount of protein is a 3 oz. chicken breast with 26 grams of protein, 142 calories and 3 grams of fat where 3 oz. of seitan contains 21 grams of protein, 120 calories, and 2 grams of fat. Kwashiorkor is a form of malnutrition that occurs when there is not enough protein in the diet and is very rare in the United States it effects mostly elderly people in nursing homes and is a sign of child abuse and neglect.
Then they go after the environment reason for stop eating meat saying “But going meatless isn’t a shortcut to saving the planet or eating healthy and may actually do more harm than good” without any back up information to go with it. Senior U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization official Henning Steinfeld reported that the meat industry is “one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems.” Why Meat? concludes with scaring parents into thinking that if a school goes Meatless Monday that the poor children in The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) will not be given “a complete protein source at lunchtime because often it is their only chance to obtain a hearty, nutritionally balanced meal.” The meat industry needs the NSLP to buy the meat and leftovers that they can’t sell anywhere else. The children are really eating irradiated hamburgers made out of the cheapest, least desirable beef, which usually contains e. coli and salmonella. They then send it through washing machines, grinds it into paste, separate out the fat, and mix it with ammonia to kill pathogens.
What Makes a Healthy Diet? describes that in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which was written by the US Department of Agriculture, that we should eat “seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds” while increasing our “intake of fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, such as milk, yogurt or cheese.” What the piece also doesn’t say is that the first line under key recommendations is “Increase vegetable and fruit intake. Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark-green and red and orange vegetables and beans and peas. Consume at least half of all grains as whole grains. Increase whole-grain intake by replacing refined grains with whole grains.” Consuming milk products is the fourth bullet point and eating protein rich foods is fifth. The article also has quotes from different magazines and websites touting the healthiness of eating meat and even includes a quote from meatandhealth.com. I am sure that is a biased look at meat consumption.
Then they go on the attack of Meatless Monday saying that it is a “well-funded, radical campaign pushes an extreme animal rights and environmental agenda by promoting false claims about animal agriculture.” They also try to scare the reader with a big quote “Meatless Monday seeks to eliminate consumer choice—the ability that we each have to determine the right food choices for ourselves and our families,” which is the total opposite of what Meatless Monday is all about. It is trying to give the consumer a choice at local restaurants. The meat industry is working hard to take away our choices. They also go after Helaine Lerner who is the founder and current board chair of the Global Resource Action Center for the Environment (GRACE).
They also provide “5 Studies that bust meat myths.” One is “No Link Between Cancer and Meat” by the Nutritional Journal in November 2010 that states “Red or processed meat has no positive association with the occurrence of prostate cancer.” The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has 5 links between meat consumption and cancer including cooked meat, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and prostate cancer with meat consumption playing a significant role in kidney and pancreatic cancer.
Lastly “Meat Prevents Brain Shrinkage” from the University of Oxford in 2008 “found that those on a meat-free diet are six times” of course what they don’t tell you is that the study found that the lack of B-12 caused the brain shrinkage not the lack of eating meat and the “study did not look at whether taking vitamin B12 supplements would have the same effect on memory.”
The meat industry is attacking Meatless Monday because of according to the Daily Livestock Report there will be lower demand at the end of 2011 of 2% with beef consumption down to in lowest point since 1955. Studies are finding that the increased awareness about farm issues is a likely factor. By having people and restaurants participate in Meatless Monday we can lower the amount of animal and human suffering while increasing our choices at local restaurants.