If I haven’t already mentioned this, I’m a farm girl. My family raises not only crops, but also cattle. We never had a day where there wasn’t beef in the freezer, usually more than one freezer. Never went a day without having meat in at least one of our meals. Sometimes I’m sure we were even over the recommended daily allowance, yet I’m still standing here as a healthy adult. And my parents are both healthy. We are Red Meat Survivors and proud of it!
So when I saw that last week the Baltimore City Public Schools system became the first in the United States to pledge to offer “Meatless Mondays” for school lunch menus, I was taken aback. This move denies 80,000 students of a meat option. Let me say that again, 80,000 students. That, to me, is absurd.
The Baltimore school officials have taken it upon themselves to relieve dietitians and nutritionists of part of their duties, at least for the first day of the school week. How is it that on Mondays, the school officials know better than dietitians what is and is not fit for the students?
According to the USDA, children ages 9-18 years of age should consume about 5-6 ounces of meat per day. Like myself, I’m sure many Americans don’t have a problem reaching this recommended daily allowance of protein, but there are also many that do. There are three out of four children in the Baltimore Public Schools system that are eligible for free or reduced meals. Those meals may be the only significant source of meat and poultry in their diets. So for the school officials to not allow them to even have a choice of a meat option on Mondays is ridiculous. What happened to free will in our country?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against having a vegetarian option on Mondays, heck, I’d even be okay with kids having the option to eat vegetarian EVERY day of the week. But why not offer that as well as a healthy meat option? Instead of having chicken nuggets or nachos with cheese as the main course, why not offer a grilled flank steak, grilled fish or turkey burger? You don’t have to eat vegetarian to eat healthy and live a long life.
As proof of this, there is a recurring article called “Confessions of Red Meat Survivors” in one of my favorite magazines, Range. I recommend you check it out.