Meat Free ZoneThe very words “Meatless Mondays” seem to send certain segments of the population into near hysterics.

It seems to have started when the Baltimore public school system adopted Meatless Mondays in the Fall of 2009. From then on, no meat would be served on Mondays in public school cafeterias. To me, this seems like a tiny step in the direction of improving children’s diets. To others, it is the start of some sort of vegan jihad.

First to sound the alarm to his fellow meat-eaters was CNN’s Lou Dobbs, who called the Baltimore policy “a real political storm in the making.” One of his guests, Janet Riley of the the meat and poultry lobbying group the American Meat Institute, called the Meatless Monday program a form of “indoctrination.” Fellow corporate mouthpiece J. Patrick Boyle — President and CEO of AMI — urges the school board to “allow children every day that they attend school to access the most nutrient dense food available: meat and poultry products.” It greatly concerns his group that “school meals may be the only significant source of meat and poultry in their diets.” (Yeah, right!)

Ignore the questionable notion that the meat and poultry industry actually cares about the diets of school children in Baltimore; their arguments just don’t make much sense. Why is it pro-vegetarian “indoctrination” to serve meatless meals once a week, but not pro-carnivore indoctrination to serve meat the other four days of the week? As far as I know, no student is being forced to pledge allegiance to PETA or Peter Singer.

Similarly, why is it so terrible if kids go one meal or even one day without “meat and poultry in their diets”? Are they going to suddenly develop distended bellies from instant onset starvation? It may be news to the AMI folks, but a meal of veggie proteins can be quite nutritious and filling.

While Dobbs’s views may questionable, his sanity isn’t. The same can’t be said of the Fox News Conspiracy Theorist in Chief, Glenn Beck. He added to his growing list of weird, melodramatic spiels when he rushed to condemn the plant-eating hordes threatening to undermine the U.S.’s carnoculture. “Americans love our steaks, we love our chops, we love our burgers,” he ranted, before trying to rally the troops against those — no doubt Commie Pinko — Baltimore school officials: “Are we going to stand for that? Are we going to put up with this? Well, you’d think not, but in Baltimore, Md., public schools have now started… Meatless Monday. No meat on the menu for 80,000 kids that they serve….”

Again, what’s the big deal? If Americans really love their meat so much, what effect will one weekly vegetarian meal have? And if it does have an effect, so what? More people eating less meat should impact Beck about as much as same-sex marriage would, which is not at all.

It is truly odd that meat-eaters would feel so threatened by the Meatless Monday movement. After all, according to The Vegetarian Resource Group, only 3 percent of Americans are vegetarians and just 1 percent vegan.

Perhaps, deep down, the carnivores suspect that the vegetarians are right, and they are wrong.

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