Vegetarian Hill staffers are feeling seriously disenfranchised after lobbyists complained to Congress about a “Meatless Monday” program that has subsequently been allowed to wither on the vine.
Per staff, “Meatless Monday” only took place once (June 3).
Steve Kopperud, executive vice president of Policy Directions Inc., helped stamp out the produce-friendly promotion — congressional dining operator Restaurant Associates' plan to provide vegetarian fare at a single food counter in the Longworth cafeteria once per week — after it was sniffed out by a member of the Farm Animal Welfare Coalition. Kopperud fired off a letter to the House Administration Committee (making sure to cc Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and a handful of relevant GOP committee chairmen) denouncing the alterna-dining outreach as pure propaganda.
“The complaint was that Meatless Mondays — a purely political concoction of a vocal anti-meat lobby — was chosen by RA as a promotion for its vegetarian/vegan options,” Kopperud told HOH. He suggested that his group has no beef with whatever others might choose to consume (“We make no judgment on anyone’s dietary choices”), stressing that he’d only bared his teeth because of the unsavory marketing campaign.
Congressional Vegetarian Staff Association member Adam Saravana said his group wasn’t terribly surprised an agri-business-friendly lobbyist was able to kill the pilot program, but it was floored by how swiftly Congress caved.
“RA provided one window of vegetarian food, one day a week, once. Then it got shut down. That’s all that happened,” Saravana stated.
The CVSA formally petitioned Restaurant Associates — “Capitol Hill cafeterias should not be a venue for political trade groups to impose their will on the eating habits of government employees,” the group advised RA President Edward Sirhal — to reinstate the meat-free menu but has received no response.
They plan to stir the pot a bit by co-hosting a vegetarian cooking demo alongside the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine from noon to 1 p.m. July 11 in Rayburn 2168; Sirhal is invited to attend.
Restaurant Associates did not respond to multiple requests for comment.