So, after much cajoling, begging and wheedling (and MAJOR help from one of our producers ), I managed to implement Meatless Monday on the set of Rules of Engagement. I worked with our craft service head honcho, Rhonda, and came up with a plan to both satisfy the cast & crew and avoid killing any living creatures for at least one day. I thought it was pretty straightforward – eat delicious food that happens to not have meat in it. I stayed up the night before the big launch until after midnight, writing recipes, making a big, funny sign to hang in the kitchen, and compiling a list of concise, nutritional facts that I thought might put people’s minds at ease about going meatless (OH MY GOD! NO MEAT FOR ONE WHOLE DAY!!!) I arrived at work at 6:00 a.m., giddy for the day, all hopped up on steel cut oats and flax seed. I put up my signs, hung my recipes and went to hair/makeup to prepare for a 10 hour day of shooting. When I walked out to set, two hours later, I took a moment to address our crew. I welcomed them to Meatless Monday, told them how much it meant to me that we were doing this, thanked them for their participation, and said, “kindly vent your bacon rage on me and not the craft service lady.” I smiled and stood there, and . . . nothing. Nobody said a word. Total silence. I felt a bit of hostility in the air and then someone said, “All right. Let’s get to work.” I slinked off set and felt my stomach lurch.
Later in the day, I heard many positive comments about the whole concept and, of course, absolute raves about the food (it really was so tasty – Italian stuffed portabello mushrooms, bucatini pasta with roasted garlic, zucchini and sundried tomatoes, rosemary focaccia, tiramisu, eggplant lasagna – deliciously decadent!). But the quiet haters really bothered me. I heard murmurings about “food Nazis” and “liberals” FORCING them to go without meat. Well, first of all, my father fought in World War II in the army infantry, on the ground in the Battle of the Bulge — so, please, have some respect, and don’t call his daughter a Nazi. As far as the “liberal” label goes, I grew up in Oklahoma , graduated from Stanford University, and have voted Republican, Democrat and Green Party at different times in my life. I think staunch, polarized political positions are for the wildly ignorant. (Read more than one news source, friends. You’d be amazed at how enlightening opposing views are.) I’m very wary of politicians who never “flip-flop” on an issue. New information necessitates reevaluation. If you open the door, and it’s raining, don’t you run back in and exchange your tube top for a turtle neck? So don’t call me liberal and don’t call me conservative, because it ain’t that simple. My eyes are open, and I change my mind when necessary. I believe, in the words of that wise, wise man, Bobby Brown, “It’s My Prerogative.”
The takeaway is that Meatless Monday was a 75% success – lots of people loved it. I know I sound naïve, and, call me Pollyanna, but I expected a little more curiosity and little less animosity. As I look back, I’m proud and happy that, even for just one day, the people I work with and love made a huge, positive, healthy change, and no animals had to be slaughtered in the process. And, by the way, from what I remember, Pollyanna lived happily ever after.