In promoting the movement, Lawrence has steadfastly avoided the “V” word, instead simply focusing on eating less meat.
The movement harks back to World W II when citizens were being called on to restrain consumption in order to allow food supplies to last longer.
Today the restraint is being asked in order to salvage the nation’s health as obesity rates soar and the US wrestles with equally obese medical costs, particularly in the over 60s after a lifetime of excess, of which meat consumption is only one component.
The meat component of consumption at 8oz (230g) a day represents 45% more than is recommended by dieticians.
With the advent of social media, the Meatless Monday campaign has gained 50% awareness in the US, and 18% of consumers claiming to subscribe to it. Influencers have included acclaimed author Michael Pollen, celebrity chef Mario Batali and even Bill Clinton who has gone further, moving from a committed carnivore to a vegan.
In some quarters, the movement has been seen almost as unpatriotic. The US National Cattleman’s Beef Association (NCBA) declared its preference for “rib-eye Mondays”.
The US Department of Agriculture had to hurriedly retract a Tweet encouraging its staff to support the movement, and was accused of treason by some in the beef industry.
Meanwhile, in defiance of the movement, Texas Republican senator John Cornyn ordered 52 BBQ beef sandwiches, with brisket sausage and ribs, with sides of cornbread and macaroni and cheese to share with the press.
Beef + Lamb NZ market development manager Craig Finch said: “The campaign has certainly had no effect on our volumes. I doubt there would be much likelihood of changing Americans’ desire to eat meat.”