It was merely symbolic—yet still disturbing—when the Los Angeles City Council last week declared every Monday to be Meatless Monday and urging all city residents to participate in a weekly day of vegetarianism.
In reporting on the vote, Los Angeles NBC affiliate Channel 4 News noted that Los Angeles has now become the largest city to embrace the Meatless Monday campaign, which the station’s news team characterized as “a nonprofit with the goal of cutting down on meat consumption for health and environmental reasons.”
That statement is getting uncomfortably close to conventional wisdom.
Neither city officials nor law enforcement will be allowed to force residents not to eat meat, according to a story in the Los Angeles Daily News.
Really? How reassuring.
Instead, the newspaper quoted Councilwoman Jan Perry stating that the resolution is meant to encourage residents to not eat meat once a week in the hopes of “starting a city-wide trend.”
Perry, who previously pushed for a ban on new fast-food restaurants in South Los Angeles, said the resolution is part of a “good food agenda” for the city.
“We can reduce saturated fats and reduce the risk of heart disease by 19%,” Perry told the LA Daily News. “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.”
The proposal was developed by the Food Policy Council, an organization with the goal of “creating more and better food jobs” and encouraging the success of smaller food companies as part of a larger mission to encourage consumption of healthy foods in Los Angeles.
Although the council promotes a number of positive initiatives, such as supporting backyard and community gardens, reducing packaging waste and improving access to locally grown foods, the group buries one of the most important food-related mandates at the bottom of its top ten list: Cutting down on sugar-loaded beverages.
Sorry if anyone out there is holding significant stock in PepsiCo or Coca-Cola Company, but the consumption of soda is one of the worst public health problems in America. Obesity? You think guzzling several hundred empty calories a day might be a problem? Diabetes? Perhaps drinking the equivalent of 30 teaspoons of sugar in every can of soda might be considered a link to one’s inability to properly process simple carbohydrates? Environmental impact? Anyone want to calculate the carbon footprint of bottling, shipping, storing and disposing of billions of containers of soda every week of the year?