Meatless Mondays are a great way for college campuses, workplaces, and families to limit their meat consumption, which has proven personal health benefits and helps limit the proliferation of climate change. But are they an appropriate practice for our military?
Warning– its gonna get a little technical up in here, so bear with me. Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment put forward by Rep. Adrian Smith of Nebraska that would ensure that meat remains on the menu for the United States Military.
Smith and other supporters of the amendment said that it protected our nations’ servicemen and women from the threat of skipping meat for one day of the week, or as Rep. Steve King puts it, the threat of ‘bloodthirsty vegan brigades’.
However, the Senate declined to vote on a similar amendment put forth in their house by Joni Ernst of Iowa, essentially neglecting to decide for the time being. Ok— enough political mumbo-jumbo for now— here’s why I have some serious beef with this and why you should care what happens.
First of all, these ‘bloodthirsty vegan brigades’? Yeah, they don’t exist. In fact, there is no evidence that anyone in any branch of government is pushing for these requirements to set in— no one was even talking about Meatless Mondays in the military before people tried to ban it. Doesn’t that seem a little crazy? Plus, isn’t the point of veganism that you aren’t bloodthirsty? Strange word choice.
Plus, the proven health benefits of a meatless diet wouldn’t harm our nation’s defence– they may even enhance it. Most of these senators see our military servicemen and women as big and strong– as they should. However, limiting meat consumption doesn’t automatically mean you will lose out on protein; in fact, an ounce of almonds has the same protein as an ounce of meat, but with more added health benefits.
What’s even more striking is that according to a recent bipartisan report, 1 in every 3 adults is actually too overweight to enlist in the military. Considering that a meatless diet helps maintain a healthy weight and high levels meat consumption have been linked to obesity, it seems like the U.S. government should be trying to promote it as much as they can.
Beyond personal health benefits, adopting a partially (or fully) meat-free diet helps combat climate change. The U.N. estimates that 14.5% of greenhouse gases come from the agriculture industry. The U.S. military is a sizeable body and enforcing meat-free Mondays would majorly help reduce our nation’s carbon footprint.
Moreover, our U.S. military sets an example for our nation’s young people– many kids grow up idolizing soldiers and U.S. patriotism hand in hand. The military has a huge opportunity here to ‘plant’ (heh) the idea of limiting meat consumption for lots of kids, which is definitely a good thing. It’ll help our country eat better and make the planet liveable for a couple more years, at least.
One final argument I want to dispel is the idea that enforcing #MeatlessMondays in the military unfairly unfringes on their rights. On the contrary, signing up for the military means signing up to serve your country in every way possible, and necessarily entails following their rules. The military is no place for people who don’t have the willpower to avoid meat for one day of the week.
Look, I’m not saying that the military should definitely enact Meatless Mondays, but they would be better off to consider its benefits. And more than that, meaningless fear-mongering about the purposed negative effects of a meatless diet are misguided if not unfair to the American people.