Farmers are irate about schools promoting Meatless Mondays for environmental sustainability and are now slamming the initiative.
An Taisce, an Irish charity that works to protect and preserve the environment, is currently holding a Green Schools campaign, which, among other things, includes a Green Schools guide that encourages students to reduce their meat intake to lower their carbon footprint, Irish Independent reported.
John Gibbons, climate change spokesman for An Taisce, said the Green Schools guide focuses on educating about the best practices to help combat climate change and only briefly references meat and dairy.
The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) President Pat McCormack criticized the initiative, calling it “anti-dairy and anti-livestock,” stating An Taisce doesn’t care about the values of rural life.
McCormack said the organization “seemed unable to look at any aspect of real rural life, whether it was trying to build a house or earn a living, without discovering some reason to object or halt local efforts.”
He added that the Green Schools campaign is causing “confusion and irritation” among farmers.
“We will not accept a scenario where our own production is undermined while imported food products are promoted that, ironically enough, often do enormous environmental damage in their countries of origin,” said McCormack.
The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) has also criticized the initiative, calling for an immediate removal of the guide, stating it is “propaganda,” adding that offering dietary advice went too far.
In response, Gibbons stated: “The suggestion that balancing our diet to a more healthy level with vegetarian foods represents some existential threat to farming is nonsensical, it’s a hysterical reaction.”
“What I find fascinating is the IFA is effectively the Irish beef and dairy protection association,” he said. “They don’t represent the rest of Irish agriculture.”
“It’s not whether the model works for farmers, it works for the IFA. Horticulture, tillage and organic farming are a more sustainable way of producing food and employment but it’s not on the map because the IFA is pushing industrial agriculture to produce cheap commodities for the dairy PLCs and beef factories.”
Meatless Mondays is a public health initiative of The Monday Campaigns Inc., founded in 2003 to encourage Americans to make healthier eating choices at the start of the week.
Israel also requires state schools to serve meatless meals at least one day a week, though it does not necessarily have to be on Mondays.