The Meatless Monday Campaign, aimed at cutting meat, dairy and egg consumption by 15 percent, is accused of misrepresenting its number of participants, especially in the categories of schools, food service and restaurants.

Ag alliance says Meatless Monday not as popular as it claimsThe Meatless Monday Campaign gained traction in recent years, but is ready to celebrate its 10-year anniversary. An investigation by the Animal Agriculture Alliance finds the popularity of the campaign is grossly misrepresented.

The alliance spent weeks surveying schools, school districts, universities, food service companies and restaurants listed on the Meatless Monday website. Feedback showed some participants decided to discontinue their involvement while other were never a part of the meatless movement.

Results of the survey found participation was cancelled largely due to food waste, concerns regarding proper nutrition and consumer preferences.

Jamie Jerabeck, a nutritionist for the school district in Henrico County, Va., said the district received complaints from parents during its participation in the program. The school district decided to end Meatless Mondays less than a year after the program started.

Another school in Utah already offering vegetarian options found students didn’t like the menu items served on Meatless Mondays.

Many restaurants didn’t understand how their business appeared on the Meatless Monday website.

 “I have an obligation to my customers to serve what they want. That means having both meat and vegetarian options,” Daniel Sauer, owner of 7a Vineyard Restaurant in Haven, Mass. said.

In addition to the results charted below, key findings include:

  • Out of the 56 kindergarten through twelfth grade schools listed as participating, more than 64.2% no longer or never participated in the program;  
  • Out of the 155 colleges/universities listed as participating, more than 43.2% no longer or never participated in the program;
  • Out of the school districts listed as participating, more than 57% no longer do. 

 Ag alliance says Meatless Monday not as popular as it claims

“Offering options is always better than alienating consumers by forcing a viewpoint—and diet—upon them,” said Alliance President and CEO Kay Johnson Smith. "At the Alliance we support consumer choice. People don't like to be forced to do anything. If the Meatless Monday campaign was honest—they would see that their numbers are dwindling and that their extreme viewpoint will ultimately lead to the campaign’s demise.”

Animal Agriculture Alliance says Meatless Mondays is a carefully orchestrated campaign that seeks to eliminate meat from Americans’ meals seven days a week — beginning with Mondays. The Meatless Monday website encourages going meatless one day a week for health reasons and to reduce your carbon footprint, but Frank Mitloehner, associate professor and air quality specialist at the University of California-Davis, says the change in diet isn’t as environmentally beneficial as activists claim.

In an American Meat Institute video released in August, Mitloehner says transportation choices make up for 26 percent of the carbon footprint whereas livestock consumption makes up 3.4 percent  according to the EPA.