This is a silly post. However, it is silly for a reason. There is an interesting hole in the following story -- maybe. I mean, there may be a journalistic hole in the story. Then again, there may be a somewhat obvious religion hole in the event or the trend that the story is about. I do not know.
Thus, some may say that it is silly to raise the issue that I am about to raise. All I can say is that this is the first thing that, as a reporter (and as a churchman in an ancient branch of Christianity), I thought of when I read this New York Times story.
The headline is blunt: "Meatless Mondays Catch On, Even With Carnivores." And here is the top of this report from the oh-so-hip environs of Aspen, Colo.
Friction between the health-and-eco-minded hippies who came here for a Rocky Mountain High in the 1970s and the superwealthy second-homers who followed from the intersection of Hollywood and Hedge Fund is an old story here at 8,000 feet.
But now there is a new potential skirmish line: Meatless Mondays.
For whatever reason, chefs and restaurateurs say, the big outside money that fuels economic life here, often flying in by private jet from places like Malibu or the Main Line, tilts heavily toward the carnivorous.
“It’s very interesting, but for some reason when people come to Aspen, they want to eat meat,” said Mimi Lenk, a vegetarian for more than a decade and the manager of Syzygy, a downtown restaurant where elk, bison and lamb are the big sellers.
A new nationwide pro-veggie effort, however -- aimed at persuading people to go meatless at least one day a week -- has been embraced here more than in any other city in America. At least 20 institutions and restaurants, including Syzygy, are offering vegetarian choices on Mondays under a plan announced this month.
The Meatless Monday trend is in the top restaurants, of course, but it isn't stopping there. You have government links as well, which means public discussions of this concept and even the use of tax dollars.
In the public school system, which embraced Meatless Monday two years ago, whole grain pancakes, dubbed “breakfast for lunch,” are a popular Monday rotation in the elementary and middle schools. And even during the rest of the week, school lunches, down to and including the ketchup, are made from scratch, overseen by a chef hired away from a downtown restaurant.
So, once again, the basic idea is to encourage people to give up meat one day a week. Note, again, that this includes the menu in public schools which affects lots of local families.
Does this basic concept sound semi-familiar to anyone?
I mean, the two largest branches of global Christianity do fast from meat (and many from dairy) on Fridays (and many other days as well). Catholicism is the largest faith group in America.
Has anyone in the Meatless Mondays world considered, uh, cooperating with these traditions? Meatless Fridays might have started out with a bit of a head start, if this was the case. I have lived in Colorado and I can assure that there are quite a few Catholics out there in the Rockies. The number is going up, last time I checked.
Did anyone from the Times ask about this? Other than alliteration, why did Meatless Mondays emerge from the pack of possible strategies for this national movement? Surely someone involved with reporting and editing this story was curious about this?
Or is Meatless Monday secular in a way that excludes millions of Americans, on purpose?
Just asking. It's silly, I know. However, I was curious.