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Why Is This Senator So Scared of Meatless Monday?

As interest in vegan eating skyrockets, foodservice providers are rushing to offer an expanded range of plant-based options, even to the U.S. military. The Coast Guard Academy recently cut its meat consumption by 10 percent by participating in “Meatless Monday, reports Politico.

Meatless Monday, a program whereby dining halls and cafeterias offer more vegetarian choices on the first day of every week, has been adopted by hundreds of K–12 schools, colleges, corporations, and major food providers around the country. The idea is to raise awareness of the health, environmental, and animal welfare costs of eating meat while helping consumers lean into a plant-based diet.

But one U.S. senator with close ties to animal agriculture is determined to stop Meatless Monday’s spread. Last week, Iowa senator Joni Ernst introduced federal legislation that would stop the Department of Defense from spending any money on it or any other program to reduce the amount of meat served to military personnel.

Ernst argues that daily meat consumption is needed to satisfy the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, but the guidelines actually recommend eating less meat and eggs. Senator Ernst signed a letter opposing this recommendation before an updated edition of the Dietary Guidelines became official earlier this year. She seems unwilling to accept the reality of the government’s conclusion: We’re eating too much meat for our own good.

Ernst has a history of ignoring reality; she has endorsed a range of conspiracy theories and made a series of other outlandish and offensive claims. As a representative of the country’s biggest pork- and egg-producing state, Ernst also gained notoriety through a campaign advertisement in 2014 called Squeal in which she told viewers, “I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm, so when I get to Washington, I’ll know how to cut pork. She received nearly $200,000 from agribusiness during that campaign, Huffington Post reports.

With vegetarian eating growing in popularity across the country, members of our armed forces obviously deserve plant-based options as well. And the rest of us don’t need Senator Ernst’s help: We can “cut pork — and every other animal product — ourselves, every time we sit down to eat. Visit ChooseVeg.com for more information.