Across the US, Canada and elsewhere, we're finding websites promoting 'Meatless Mondays'. One example from my country: meatlessmonday.ca.
This blog entry, as usual, is a critique of vegans (and animal rights activists) participating in non-vegan activities. That is to say, i'm not criticising *all* who promote MM, although i believe a number of the points i bring up apply to others who promote MM (such as environmentalists - more on that below.) I really don't see a point to it from any perspective i can think of, but my imagination has its limits.
If today is Meatless Monday, what's tomorrow, Bloody Tuesday? Meatless Monday's follow the Sunday Slaughter? And in fact Monday will be just as bloody, if eggs or dairy are included. MM is definitely not a 'vegan' message from any angle. It isn't encouraging the end of animal exploitation. Nor is it promoting vegetarianism. I don't really know *what* the message is supposed to be. If there is enough of a reason to be meatless on a Monday, shouldn't it be good enough to be meatless every day?
This response can be repeated from nearly every angle. Why is it only good for the environment to eat no meat on only one day of the week? Wouldn't it be seven times better for the environment to give up meat every day of the week? (That seems significant to me.)
Or if it's being argued because people care about animals.. Why is Monday the only day of respite from breeding, imprisoning and then murdering an intelligent, sensitive creature? If it's worth giving up one day a week, why not all seven?
Perhaps even more troubling is that these efforts fail to ensure that 'less meat' is being consumed! Consider: are people who participate in MM actually buying less meat? Is there any evidence for this? Or do they buy the same amount, but compensate over the rest of the week by eating more over six days?
As an example, if someone normally buys a pack of lunchmeat for their pig-flesh sandwiches every day at work, will they carry the 'extra' over to the following Tuesday, or do they just eat the 'extra' over the rest of the week? (Or are there special, smaller 'Meatless Monday' packs from meat companies? HA!! If you don't find that funny, think about it for a moment.)
There's a very good case to be made that this is actually doing NOTHING - not even what the weakest-willed advocates hope for. What's worse, what if other animal products are being consumed to compensate for the lack of meat (since people are brainwashed into believing that they HAVE to eat animal protein)? If people are eating more eggs and dairy on these days, i don't believe that there is really any net gain (for whatever cause that is promoting this.)
Back to reasons for doing this, like for the environment. Why is a cow or bull who is used for their flesh 'worse' for the environment than a cow who is used for her milk? If this is being done for environmental reasons, the hypocrisy is evident: cow dairy is as harmful as cow flesh. The same can be said of chicken flesh and chicken eggs.
`Give up meat for Monday!` is well-meaning, but like `Give up war for Monday!` Peace is an everyday concept. - Lee Hall, aka @VeganMeans on Twitter
If you think that MM is good for animals, think again.. I feel like i'm getting repetitive, but the exact same issues come up as with the environment. Animals used for their excretions (cows for dairy, chickens for eggs) end up slaughtered for their flesh in the end as well...after spending several years as biological machinery. Their lives are not enviable, and no better than the animals used for their meat.
Meatless Mondays result in a false sense of accomplishment from their participants. In doing little-to-nothing (when looking at the bigger picture, and factoring in that they may not be eating less meat at all), they are rewarded, and feel entitled to joining the ranks of those of us who have made meaningful and serious commitments and sacrifices through changes in our lives.
Perhaps they are beginning to join vegans in spirit, but in all honesty that is not enough. Real change is needed. According to the World Watch Institute, 51% of all greenhouse emissions are from animal agriculture. To give that perspective, all cars, trains, planes and boats, the ENTIRE transportation sector, would amount to perhaps 7% of total emissions. The impact is tremendous, and the report is here: http://www.worldwatch.org/node/6294 - it's a worthwhile read.
Instead of Meatless Mondays, these activists should be promoting meaningful efforts. Encourage more vegan meals. Start with getting participants to eat vegan breakfasts. These are easy, with cereal, oatmeal, toast, fruits and other common foods. This is a meaningful, positive change. And it's getting people to actually think the way they need to: that meals need to be *vegan*. Not 'meatless'. From there, encourage working up to lunches, and dinners. By preparing vegan meals, they're actually practicing veganism, and being mindful of real change.
If veganism is our goal (and nearly all who promote Meatless Monday would say this is the case), then we NEED to ask for veganism. Not 'Meatless Mondays', and then sitting on our laurels and hoping that they'll progress from there. Weak-willed, apologetic campaigns have dominated the world of animal activism for the last century, and relatively little has changed (well, if anything, people are generally eating MORE animal products, and actually feeling better about how 'humane' it is.)
I know numerous people who have been vegetarians for years and DECADES, yet still haven't gone vegan (although they claim it is their 'goal'.) The evidence is clear: asking people to go vegetarian generally results in vegetarians, not vegans. The type of activism that results in vegans needs to be vegan from the get-go. And Meatless Mondays is an even weaker degree of activism than vegetarianism. We need to stop watering down the message, and stepping further backwards. It's not working.
In summation: let's stop doing activism that doesn't work.
(Note: i can be found here on The Twitter. ;)