U.S.D.A. Revokes Call for ‘Meatless Mondays’

Newletter retracts statement after flak from officials

Earlier this week the U.S.D.A. issued an interoffice newsletter containing a “Greening Headquarters Update” urging employees to participate in the “Meatless Monday” initiative in their cafeteria.

The U.S.D.A. is just one among thousands of corporate cafeterias and restaurants that are skipping meat on Mondays as part of a joint initiative by a nonprofit, the Monday Campaign Inc. and the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

However, after the newsletter was met with outraged Twitter messages from livestock producers and at least one member of congress, the U.S.D.A. revoked their statement, explaining that the, “U.S.D.A. does not endorse Meatless Monday,” a spokeswoman said in a statement. The newsletter “was posted without proper clearance,” she reasoned.

Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa, tweeted: “USDA HQ meatless Mondays!! At the Dept. of Agriculture? Heresy! I’m not grazing there. I will have the double rib-eye Mondays instead.”

A spokesman for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association called it “a slap in the face of the people who every day are working to make sure we have food on the table to say ‘Don’t eat their product once a week.’ ” The group challenged the newsletter’s claim that the production of meat has significant environmental impacts by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and decreasing our dependence on resources like grain.

Peggy Neu of the Monday Campaigns lamented the lost endorsement of what could have been an influential supporter. “The U.S.D.A. is right in the middle of dietary recommendations, so from our perspective it would be a terrific thing if they signed on,” Ms. Neu said. “Or, I guess I should say, ‘would have been.’”