"Meatless" doesn't sound so hard. I call Rachel Atcheson, the Philadelphia director for the Humane League, to ask if you can have chicken or fish.
No, she says.
Not even fish?
Most fish is farmed, she says, and the worst conditions are in those tanks, with fish crammed in so tightly they can barely swim, in water polluted by their own feces.
When I was growing up, my family had a version of Meatless Monday. (Most of my Catholic friends had Meatless Friday, but fish was OK.)
My family had dairy on Monday. Mom didn't do it because meat can be an artery-clogging, heart-attack producer. She didn't do it to protect environment ruined by cruel, land-based factory farms. They didn't exist then. She didn't do it to reduce the carbon footprint. The footprints she saw were caused by me tracking in crankcase leakage from the street.
We had dairy because meat was expensive and we were poor. Now, I go mostly meat-free because it is healthy.
Mondays were my introduction to sliced bananas peeking through a snowy layer of sour cream. Or sour cream on cottage cheese.
Some Mondays the star of the show would be Mom's infamous bone-flecked salmon croquettes made with crappy salmon straight from the round tin. The can came with a little key soldered to the top that was used to "unwind" the metal strip that sealed the can. (That was a cut finger waiting to happen.)
Occasionally the menu would be expanded to embrace soup, borscht or Dad's favorite, a gut-busting, blinding-white concoction of noodles, rice, mashed potatoes and boiled milk. He invented it, but he didn't name it. I will: Carb Blizzard.
Nutrition-minded readers will notice that I didn't mention vegetables. That's because Dad never ate them - except for potatoes, corn and peas.
All starches? OMG! No vegetables, ever?
Yes. He will be 98 in February.
Everyone knows that too much red meat is bad for you. Agribusiness has confined animals to gruesome sheds or pens to fatten them efficiently - at low cost, but high stress to the animals. The massive animal concentration fouls the water and the air and accounts for up to 30 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions.
Meatless Monday provides one day of relief on all fronts. If, like Dad, salads and veggies don't float your boat, nonmeat selections are growing (check your supermarket freezer) or go for pizza, pasta, burritos, rice and beans, pierogi - there's no need to not feel satisfied.
In recent years, all the above combined to reform some of the most cruel farming practices.
Enter (dogfighting defender) Steve King, the Iowa Republican who sneaked an amendment into the 2013 Farm Bill that would set back humane laws by a century.
Under the King Amendment, explains Wayne Pacelle, of the Humane Society of the United States, "If any one state in the union tolerates the production or sale of a particular agricultural product," no matter how cruel, the other 49 must match it - a putrid race to the bottom.
When a fervent States Righter like King moves to curb their power, you know he's up to no good.
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