As the debate between livestock farmers and environmentalist heats up, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio just sparked another conversation. The mayor announced this week that every public school in New York City will be participating in the Meatless Mondays campaign. To no surprise, many agriculturalists are upset at the mayor’s actions and accusations. Others are upset about the mayor forcing a political agenda and restricting 1.1 millions students, leaving them no other options.
“Cutting back on meat a little will improve New Yorkers’ health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” de Blasio said during a press conference. “We’re expanding Meatless Mondays to all public schools to keep our lunch and planet green for generations to come.”
The press conference continued with Mark Chambers, Director of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, chiming in, “Reducing our appetite for meat is one of the single biggest ways individuals can reduce their environmental impact on our planet.”
Ironically he announced this literally within minutes of USDA reporting that beef cattle production is "not a significant contributor to long-term global warming." This isn't about "the future of our planet" – it's about an extreme political agenda. #GreenNewDeal https://t.co/Ir6KPwiTJp
— NCBA's Beltway Beef (@BeltwayBeef) March 12, 2019
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association used newly released scientific data to shut down NYC’s environmental argument. The USDA’s latest report found cattle production is not a significant contributor to long-term global warming. However, you know one proven contributor? Transportation and electricity generation. With New York City being a sizable contributor to both, you would think the mayor could do more to help the biggest cause (56%) of greenhouse gases instead of the 3.3% from cattle, found by the Agricultural Research Service.
Although one day without meat may not seem like a big fuss to everyone, what is the harm in having options? What’s the upside of forcing students to abide by a specific political agenda; why not let them choose their own meals while at school? Think of the child who doesn’t have a choice otherwise — the lack of choice to bring their breakfast and lunch to school because there is nothing at home. Their main source of nutrition is from school. The students and their parents rely on the school to provide healthy lunch options, with the nutrition that will keep them full and focused throughout the day. What happens when they don’t eat at school either? Don’t force your beliefs on someone instead of looking at the facts.
The North American Meat Institute wrote to the mayor, asking him to reconsider. “The science is indisputable: meat is exceptionally nutrient-dense, with essential vitamins and minerals, and it is a source of complete proteins that cannot be matched by plant-based diets. Meat’s nutrients are highly bioavailable, meaning they are more easily absorbed by the body than nutrients from plant sources. Extensive research has shown the benefits of meat for both body and brain, especially for children.”
Even with science to back up the environmental concerns and healthy advantages of animal protein, some will still argue that Meatless Mondays are good for the students. However, all one has to do is look at the recent vegan Youtuber who converted back to a meat-eating lifestyle for the sake of his health. It’s not right to force a lifestyle change because of a political agenda, all while smearing the agriculture industry.