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.
I like the thought and effort put into your Meatless Monday. Big applause, big fan. I think it would be worth the effort for my family to give this a try. Thanks
Well, I’m a meat man, but what you did was very nice.
You said you like opening your eyes, so let me tell you the Jewish perspective on this (although I’m no expert, but this is what I know):
According to Judaism, the only living beings that were given souls are human beings (regardless of your religion, of course). Souls are the real you, and the body is just like a meaningless object. The animals around us were created for us, and some of them were created especially for us to eat them (like chicken, cows, etc.). So their body does feel pain, but as an object. It’s like eating a carrot or a tomato. I know it sounds weird, but plants (including trees) are similar to animals. They have no soul, and they feel pain (it’s written in the Bible — 2K years ago — and recently discovered by science). There are special devices that can measure the “screams” of a plant when cut. For example, when you cut a specific tree (can’t remember which), its screams can be heard around the world.
So yes, animals and plants have fear and anguish, but they were created for us to some puropses. When you kill, cut and eat them, they suffer as an object. Humans have a soul, and when someone kills a person, there are consequences. Some we know (like what happens to the soul, what happens to the one who killed), and some are beyond our understanding.
Thanks for that info. It’s always interesting to me to hear other perspectives on this subject, especially various religious beliefs. I appreciate your taking the time to share.
Let me offer another Jewish perspective: animals were not created to be eaten and they DO have souls. It specifically states in Genesis 1:29 “And G-d said, Behold I have given you every herb-yielding seed, that which is upon the face of all the earth and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree-yielding seed – to you it shall be for food; and to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to everything that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is a living soul, I have given every green herb for food.”
I suggest reading about Judaism and Vegetarianism from an expert:
Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the College of Staten Island is an authority on Judaism and Vegetarianism and an activist in the United States and Israel. He is President of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) http://www.jewishveg.com and co-founder and coordinator of the Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians (SERV).
Dr. Schwartz was inducted into the Vegetarian Hall of Fame by the North American Vegetarian Society (NAVS) in 2005. I have had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with Dr. Schwartz on various occasions including talks he has given to promote vegetarianism. He is the author of the well-known book, Judaism and Vegetarianism.
His writings inspired the 2007 documentary film, A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Heal the World. You can watch this on YouTube. To hear a podcast on iTunes of Rae Sikora’s interview with Dr. Schwartz, “Why People Should Be Vegetarians,” you can go to http://www.H2Opodcast.com/vsse.html#psbv
The idea that animals are just objects and their pain is meaningless is abhorrent. There are countless studies proving that all animals feel, think, love, grieve and have rich, emotional worlds as well as cognition and intelligence.
Meg, I am a big fan of yours and applaud you for your activism. I’m sorry your hard work and values went unappreciated at work but please know that in the veg world, we know what you did and we appreciate it. As do the animals who, yes, can experience appreciation.
Love it! Jay and I were vegetarian for a long time, and people just didn’t get it. It’s a personal choice, and if people would just try it, even just once a week, they would make a big difference in the world around them. Thanks for putting yourself out there and instituting Meatless Monday’s on the set!
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Megyn, thank you! It’s always wonderful to hear of celebrities who use their success to educate and reduce animal suffering. My boyfriend and I are huge fans of your show, and I’m an even bigger fan after hearing about your compassion and courage. You are truly beautiful, inside and out!