Los Angeles adopts ‘Meatless Mondays’

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Los Angeles is now the largest city to endorse “Meatless Mondays.”

The Los Angeles City Council approved a resolution last week declaring all future Mondays in the city “Meatless Mondays,” according to KNBC-TV4 Los Angeles. The program encourages consumers to voluntarily go vegetarian for the day, for what organizers say are health and environmental reasons.

Councilwoman Jan Perry, whose anti-obesity measures already include calling for a ban on new fast food restaurants in South LA, according to the LA Daily News, said it’s an important step toward raising awareness about healthy food choices.

“This follows the ‘good food’ agenda we recently adopted supporting local, sustainable food choices,” Perry said. She introduced the proposal with Councilman Ed Reyes. Both are Democrats.

“We can reduce saturated fats and reduce the risk of heart disease by 19 percent,” Perry said. “While this is a symbolic gesture, it is asking people to think about the food choices they make. Eating less meat can reverse some of our nation’s most common illnesses,” she claimed.

Reyes added that Meatless Mondays is also related to concerns for the environment.

“The issue is how does a local municipality engage in this and how do we create change,” Reyes said according to the Daily News. “If we do it one plate at time, one meal, one day, we are ratcheting down the impact on our environment. We start with one day a week and then, who knows, maybe we can change our habits for a lifetime.”

The “Meatless Monday” initiative was started in 2003 in association with the the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, NBC Los Angeles noted.

The university reportedly started the program after receiving a six-figure donation from New York socialite Helaine Lerner, a supporter of programs run by the Humane Society of the United States. That organization wages campaigns against livestock farming and meat consumption because of an animal-rights ideology.

“By cutting out meat once a week, we can improve our health, reduce our carbon footprint and lead the world in the race to reduce climate change,” according to the Meatless Mondays website.

San Francisco adopted a Meatless Monday resolution in April 2010.

Farmers and ranchers and their advocates insist that meat is part of a healthy diet, and that claims of environmental damage linked to livestock production are overblown.

In July the United States Department of Agriculture came under fire for urging its employees in an online newsletter to participate in the no-meat program. (RELATED: USDA newsletter encourages employees not to eat meat, GOP senator calls foul)

“Never in my life would I have expected USDA to be opposed to farmers and ranchers,” Kansas Republican Sen. Jerry Moran said in a statement at the time. “American farmers and ranchers deserve a USDA that will pursue supportive policies rather than seek their further harm.”

“With extreme drought conditions plaguing much of the United States, the USDA should be more concerned about helping drought-stricken producers rather than demonizing an industry reeling from the lack of rain.”

The government agency later explained that its Meatless Mondays endorsement came without proper clearance.

In Los Angeles, however, the city council has cleared it unanimously, with a 12-0 vote.

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Caroline May