New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday that NYC's public schools will be going vegetarian one day per week in order to save the Earth.
Local New York media reports that the "Meatless Mondays" pilot program, which brought vegetarian meals to around 15 Brooklyn schools, will expand city-wide for the 2019-2020 school year, and "all schools will serve vegetarian menus on Mondays" to the city's 1.1 million students.
De Blasio told a press conference Monday that the change will help improve the health of New York's students, and will hopefully have an impact on climate change.
“Cutting back on meat a little will improve New Yorkers' health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “We're expanding Meatless Mondays to all public schools to keep our lunch and planet green for generations to come.”
"Meatless Monday" options will include things like "whole grain rotini pasta with herbed marinara sauce," and the likely less popular, "kid friendly kale salad."
The program, at least, is "cost neutral," since the city already spends money on feeding students; in this case, they're simply adjusting the menu to accommodate one vegetarian meal per week. Like other cities, New York is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and a costly experiment in vegetarianism might just be what sends the city — and the city's residents — over the edge.
Cows have been "public enemy number one" of the environmentalism movement since Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced their "Green New Deal" last month. According to a "fact sheet" released with the Green New Deal and posted on Ocasio-Cortez's website, the ultimate aim of the GND will be to transition Americans to a fully vegetarian diet in the name of halting apocalyptic climate change. The document, which has now been scrubbed from the web, even suggested a permanent solution to methan-producing cattle.
Environmental activists have, in recent years, pushed the idea that going vegetarian is the only way to effectively "save the planet," and according to The Atlantic, several legislators have even proposed taxing meat as if it were a "vice" item, like cigarettes or alcohol.
The theory behind it is that cows produce methane, which has an outsized impact on climate change, as it's even more dangerous, as an emission, than carbon dioxide. In developing countries, where "unsustainable" agricultural practices are common, livestock rearing leads to everything from deforestation to diesel fuel pollution.
Recent studies, however, have demonstrated that while eating meat does have an environmental impact, cows aren't the Four Horsement of the climate change apocalypse, and while much of the developed world may be able to cut back on meat consumption, in most places in the world where populations aren't swimming in excess food, cattle, pigs, goats, and chickens provide much-needed sources of protien.
"Many people continue to think avoiding meat as infrequently as once a week will make a significant difference to the climate," one environmental scientist wrote for The Conversation. "But according to one recent study, even if Americans eliminated all animal protein from their diets, they would reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by only 2.6 percent. According to our research at the University of California, Davis, if the practice of Meatless Monday were to be adopted by all Americans, we’d see a reduction of only 0.5 percent."
We're already making better progress than that by improving our agricultural practices. According to the same study, simple technological advancements in the practice of farming have reduced cow-based greenhouse emissions by "11.3 percent since 1961."
But, if skipping meat one day per week makes Bill de Blasio feel accomplished, it's hard to argue. Because he wouldn't accept an alternate conclusion anyway.