I have, for better or worse, become the go-to meat eater on this site. (See my deeply philosophical rant about whether or not it's "worth it" being a vegetarian, or my attempt to eat every one of the new "Extreme Hot Dogs" over at Dodger Stadium to see why I've been pigeonholed as such.) So, of course when I learned that the Los Angeles City Council voted their unanimous support behind the Meatless Mondays movement I was ready for a battle.
How dare they get in the way of my eating meat whenever I want to eat it! If this is what a Big Government looks like, I want no part of it! Time for me to pick up my belongings and move over to Arizona or Oregon and wait until this Democratic super-majority gets brought back down to Earth!
That's about five seconds of thoughts right there, I should say. And all of that animosity evaporated from my mind when I read the phrase "non-binding resolution."
Basically, it means nothing will change officially -- there aren't going to be police patrolling restaurants at the beginning of every week just to make sure everyone's keeping the sausage sabbatical; (Any newly-implemented meat cops in L.A. will be the result of the overwhelmingly-passed Measure B, hey-oh!) Instead it means that people will be encouraged to forgo animal carcass consumption for something a bit healthier. The fact that it's not something that's going to be strictly enforced, obviously, is an important distinction to make. But the whole thing still got me thinking:
Do I, do we, really need to eat as much meat as we are?
While the average American's meat consumption has been falling over the past few years, including a dramatic drop this year, it's still quite high on the spectrum if you compare it to the past century. And while there's certainly no reason for the country to drop down to the Great Depression-era consumption levels, what's interesting to note is that the above-linked meat-eating graph looks a whole lot like another one: the obesity rate in America.
(If you want an even scarier look at the obesity information, check out
these maps from the CDC, the blue-to-red progression not being due to changes in political climate, but instead expansions of the average belt size.)
A one-to-one correlation between meat-eating and obesity, clearly, is too dramatic of a conclusion to make from the data. Sugary sodas, oversized portions, and lack of exercise all certainly contribute, even more so than eating meat. But you can't look at the two charts and believe there is no cause-and-effect happening here.
So, sure. The unanimous vote for Meatless Mondays is one of those symbolic pieces of legislation that really has no teeth. It's more of a suggestion than anything else. The council that made the vote even admits as much:
Councilwoman Jan 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."
But the whole thing is not worthless or without merit. It got me to think a bit about my own meat consumption, the stated goal of the resolution, and will have me putting down my burgers in lieu of sautéing up vegetables to start off every week from now on. Which is to say, this Meatless Mondays thing is already a success.