Snake Oil Mondays at Fridays

COMMENTARY - If you thought turning the calendar from 2017 to 2018 might usher in a refreshing new wave of logic and common sense…well, it didn’t. Nope. After a holiday break to stand in airports drinking $5 coffee on their way to see relatives they can’t stand, Americans are back to their normal routines – drinking $5 coffee while they stare at their phones absorbing the day’s news from social media.

Cynical much, you ask? Yep. Enveloped by a sense of despair? Close.

That’s because we are now living in the Golden Age for snake oil salesmen. The rapid advent of the internet and social media means that at no time in history has it been easier to promote false ideas and encourage people to take action that is at best, wrong, and at worst, dangerous to man and beast.

Today’s example is brought to us by TGI Fridays, the restaurant chain with 962 locations in 60 countries. A week ago Fridays announced it will add the plant-based Beyond Meat burger to its menu at more than 450 locations in the U.S. That’s cool, because Fridays is privately-owned by Sentinel Capital Partners and TriArtisan Capital Partners, and they’re free to operate their business however they see fit.

This week, however, TGI Fridays sees fit to disparage your business in a transparent attempt to bolster theirs.

Fridays, with a menu that includes burgers, wings, chicken strips, and an assortment of other delicious animal foods, now says it will join forces with the non-profit organization behind the Meatless Monday campaign. Let that sink in for a moment.

TGI Fridays, a restaurant chain in operation since 1965, will now actively promote – through its social media channels – an organization that hopes to end livestock and meat production, all while selling animal foods to its customers.

Announcing the collaboration, TGI Fridays says through its online promotional activities and social media it has the potential of drawing diverse consumers to the meat-centric chain. A head-scratcher, for sure, but the folks at Meatless Monday are ecstatic.

“We’re excited that TGI Fridays, an iconic global restaurant brand, is leveraging Monday as a day to attract consumers to try Beyond Burger and Friday’s other plant-based selections,” said Dana Smith, Meatless Monday campaign director.

For the record, the Meatless Monday message is: “Skipping meat one day a week is good for you, great for your nation’s health, and better for the planet.”

Reams of gigabytes can be written about why that message is a myth, and there’s plenty of science that shows livestock production can co-exist with environmental stewardship while helping feed a hungry planet. None of which matters to TGI Fridays, of course. They want to sell you a veggie burger on Mondays, and they want you to leave their restaurant feeling all warm and fuzzy that you’ve made a small contribution to saving the planet and ending animal suffering.

None of which could be further from the truth, but then, snake oil has never relied on truth for its effectiveness.


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Submitted by Jen on Fri, 01/12/2018 - 16:54

Wow. This is by far the most absurd article I've ever read (and that's saying a lot!). The post is about "snake oil", which ironically enough is exactly what it's demonstrating. Look - I know you have an agenda (to exploit animals and profit off their suffering, pain and death), but being factually inaccurate is no excuse. "Reams of gigabytes can be written about why that message is a myth, and there’s plenty of science that shows livestock production can co-exist with environmental stewardship while helping feed a hungry planet." Really? Where are your sources? Because I can provide plenty (including a report from the United Nations called "Livestock's Long Shadow" that is actually based in SCIENCE and not opinion) that animal agriculture is terrible for the environment (not to mention horrendous for the animals and bad for our health). Also, it's just plain logic - some animals foods are now classified as carcinogens, heart disease (predominantly the result of high cholesterol, which is only found in animal flesh and secretions, not plants) is still the #1 killer in the US, and deforestation is occurring at an alarming rate so animals can be raised to be killed and eaten. Not to mention the greenhouse gases that result from raising livestock are more than all the transportation in the world combined (again, that's science). Plus animals eat A LOT (which logically cannot be disputed - your average cow or pig eats much more per day that an average human) - if we fed all the grains, corn and water directly to humans rather than the billions of animals we raise and kill each year, world hunger would effectively be eliminated.

The fact that Friday's is offering a cruelty-free alternative is a good thing - amazing, in fact. Criticizing them for it for the purpose of pushing your own agenda is sad and, quite frankly, pathetic.

Submitted by Tom on Tue, 01/16/2018 - 18:30

I couldn't agree more with Jen. I understand that articles like this cater to a cruel industry and that although slow, they see their profits under a little threat, but the entire article is rubbish. I'm happy to say that as food science comes along by leaps and bounds, the number of vegetarians and vegans is only going to continue to increase. Good news for the planet, animals, and those humans that don't have their heads buried in the sand, denying what goes on in animal production. It's going to get harder and harder for people to ignore the truth and hopefully, eventually....the industry that this website promotes, will die.
More and more foods are coming online, more and more restaurants are going in this direction, and more and more people are choosing to eliminate animal products from their diets. If anyone is curious about what's out there, you need only google lab-grown meat and vegan/vegetarian food to see the choices. I don't expect everyone to become a vegetarian or vegan, but I do think that the percentages are going to gradually continue to rise. The meat and animal production industry is going to do all it can to lie and deflect with scare stories, but the truth will eventually overcome the misinformation put out by the animal production industry.

In reply to by Jen (not verified)

Submitted by JM on Mon, 01/29/2018 - 19:18

Yes at $6000+ per pound those lab grown meats are so affordable for the poor masses and ironically they still had to use cells harvested from an animal.

In reply to by Tom (not verified)

Submitted by Yours Truly on Mon, 01/29/2018 - 16:12

I agree this is a poor article (and the author an embarrassment to Drovers), but I would ask you to consider a few things. 1) You seem to speak of his agenda in a negative light, but don't you have your own agenda? Is it wrong to have an agenda? I think maybe not. It's just that the agenda itself can be wrong. 2) There are studies on both sides of this issue. Look for them, you will find them. And it's the same for nearly every discipline. You will almost always find studies supporting whatever position you want. 3) It hurts the credibility of your argument if you say things like "deforestation is happening at an alarming rate so animals can be killed". There are a number of factors that lead to deforestation. 3) You reference logic a couple of times in a manner that makes me think that you don't know what logic truly is. I wonder if you mean "intuitive"? I think if you truly think about all of these things, you will be able to argue more effectively with less emotion. Most importantly, you will be in better position to find the truth.

Now, for my own question. What do we do with livestock if we stop eating them? Will they populate out of control?

In reply to by Jen (not verified)

Submitted by JM on Mon, 01/29/2018 - 19:11

Jen- You lost all opportunity to be taken seriously when you mentioned "livestock's long shadow" as a credible source especially since the UN itself has acknowledged the flaws in the report and credible scientists all over the world have thoroughly debunked most of it. Can livestock production and environmental stewardship coexist you ask, well the UN and FAO sure state they can so unless you're too lazy to read other articles that don't fit you're narrow opinion there's plenty of sources out there. Animal agriculture accounts for <3% of all GHG emissions for the US. The fact is more GHG's are produced from landfills and rice paddies than animal agriculture, don't take my word for it take FAO's and the UN's word. Did you know there are plant based foods that are also considered carcinogenic, probably not since you didn't bother to read the whole list. Meat consumption per capita is trending down in developed countries but heart disease is going up, how could that be if animal products are the sole cause? I guess growing medical research stating genetics could be the biggest likely culprit regardless of diet, won't suit your agenda. In another glaring show of your under-education plants do contain a version of cholesterol, they're called phytosterols. You are right though animals do eat a lot but ruminants (cows, sheep, goats, etc) can digest fibrous feeds such as grass, hay, silage, grains that humans can't or can't absorb enough nutrients to make it worthwhile, which is why we started domesticating them in the first place. The majority of land on earth isn't suitable for farming so raising livestock especially ruminants helped us use resources to produce food for us we normally wouldn't have been able to use. I would guess 90% of all cattle in the US start and spend most of their lives on pasture except for the last few months of feeding out for slaughter. You're foolish to think hunger would be solved just by getting rid of livestock, it would actually get worse. We produce plenty of food on this Earth but depending on who you ask we waste 30-50% of it. Besides food waste economics and distribution and are second biggest reason for hunger. I can't raise a crop than turn around and give it away for free or better yet even if I sell it for a profit it won't always reach the people who need it. Lastly you said it best, "Criticizing them for it for the purpose of pushing your own agenda is sad and, quite frankly, pathetic." So Jen please use that tiny little piece of information you actually got right and stop criticizing others or things you don't agree with or actually have any working knowledge of. That's Science!

In reply to by Jen (not verified)

Submitted by Kali on Mon, 01/29/2018 - 18:12

Do people still go to that place?