Last week, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved legislation declaring Monday to be meat-free. “With this resolution, San Francisco can join the growing list of communities that have taken action to encourage citizens to choose vegetarian foods as a way to protect the planet and their health,” said Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, a longtime vegetarian herself. The resolution has no real power beyond simply suggesting people to forgo meat for one day and encouraging “all restaurants, grocery stores and schools to offer a greater variety of plant-based options….”
Despite the general toothlessness of the resolution, I was waiting for the inevitable hissy fit from the meat industry and their allies on the Right. After all, they went pretty ballistic over the Baltimore public school system’s adoption of Meatless Mondays. I searched for some sort of insane reaction to the San Francisco story from Glenn Beck, but no luck. Why so quiet this time around?
Most likely, the pro-meat crowd just figures this is simply another wacky, hippy-dippy San Francisco thing that they don’t have to worry about. Plus, unlike Baltimore’s Meatless Monday program, the Bay City resolution has no effect on policy.
Of course, there were some reactionary reactions. The ever-vocal astroturf group the Center for Consumer Freedom issued a short item which, after absolving the cattle industry of contributing to climate change, concluded, “Let’s hope the next hard-to-swallow idea out of San Francisco gets widely panned as well.” Funny, I could find no real evidence that the meat-free resolution was “widely panned.”
And the folks over at “The O’Reilly Factor” can always be counted on to generate phony controversy. On April 7, guest host Laura Ingraham did a short segment on the San Francisco resolution in which she spoke with (it wasn’t really an interview) Hope Bohanec of In Defense of Animals. Bohanec praised the actions of the Board of Supervisors, and made valid, logical points about the health and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet. Ingraham, for her part, implied that vegetarianism is somehow elitist, since most Americans “like a burger, you know, a couple of times a week.” Charges of elitism are always amusing when they come from someone like Ingraham, a graduate of Dartmouth who clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals and served as a speechwriter in the Reagan adminstration.
Laura Ingraham concluded the segment voicing concerns about “the day that the Board of Supervisors lays down the edict about no leather shoes or leather belts” and everyone has to “wear plastic.” Her last line? “I’m going to go have a cheeseburger after this.” How mature.
While the reaction to San Francisco’s efforts to encourage less meat consumption has been oddly weak and muffled, I take no comfort in it. I suspect the pro-meat crowd is biding their time and saving their energy to focus on bigger, more substantial issues. They might not want to bother with a resolution which doesn’t actually change anything. But wait until another school board adopts Meatless Monday as formal policy. Then expect the meat industry and their lackeys to come out swinging.
Photo Credit: Mylerdude