As I sat down to a breakfast of faux bacon, pineapple and coffee on Monday, April 22, I was called over by a group of first-years having a lively debate. For 8:45 AM, they were certainly more awake than I.
Their question: “Yo Max, what’s the deal with Meatless Monday?” As someone who has taken more than one Peter Schwartzman class, a litany of passionate responses ran through my head: carbon emissions, genetic homogenization, chickens that can’t walk, fossil fuels, eating animals.
In my groggy state, though, all I managed to mutter was something along the lines of, “uh, environmental stuff. Earth Day y’know?”
As I sat in class later that day, I tried to piece together a more complete answer than the half-question I offered that morning. I knew that there was one. In fact, I think all of us know that there is one. What would your reaction be to an email containing a video that read, “Inside an Industrial Farming Facility,” or something of that nature? Any reasonable person would probably have a gut feeling that what they were going to see was horrific.
There are many terrible aspects of modern-day meat production. Of all the egregious offenses that come with the factory-farm system of production, however, Meatless Monday is an observance of the costs — on human health, environmental health and animal health — incurred in order for us to be able to eat meat every day of every week.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture estimates that the industrialized meat industry contributes more than one-fifth of greenhouse gas emissions to climate change — the number one threat facing our nation, our future.
These facts are not part of a “liberal agenda,” as I heard many students say, nor are they hyperbole.
The meat industry is the worst contributor to environmental degradation across the globe, and tastes for meat are on the rise. One day of consciousness on campus is something to laud, not complain about. In fact, we should work to make every Monday meatless.