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Beef (don't worry-safe for reading at work), the nation's leading cattle magazine is having a cow over an innocuous USDA (United Stated Department of Agriculture) interoffice newsletter that suggested, for purposes of reducing one’s environmental footprint, that employees consider having a “Meatless Monday.”

Now, to clarify, they weren’t saying everyone shouldn’t eat meat, nor were they saying that people shouldn’t eat meat all the time. The agency simply posted an interoffice newsletter that suggested, for purposes of reducing one’s environmental footprint, that employees consider having a “Meatless Monday.”

Meatless Monday is an initiative undertaken in association with the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. (Er, sorry: the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.) The effort suggests that Americans give up meat one day a week for a variety of reasons: health, weight loss, and, yes, the environment. Beef (the food, not the magazine) is a massive source of carbon emissions (pdf). Some innocent employee in the USDA read that fact somewhere, or got a press release, and added Meatless Monday to the “Greening Headquarters Initiative” section of the agency newsletter.

You are seeing the last gasps of an industry that is clearly on the brink of extinction.  There is no way that our carbon intense/resource intense meat eating habit can carry on into our population stretched, climate challenged future.  It's just too bad that the USDA doesn't have the cojones to face the inevitable.

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