What started off as an innocent tip by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), last week Monday, for reducing your carbon footprint in an interoffice newsletter has boiled over into a media field day with coverage ranging from the New York Times, ABC News and FOX News.

The message from the USDA was clear and factual,  â€One simple way to reduce your environmental impact while dining at our cafeterias is to participate in the ‘Meatless Monday’ initiative.” but resulted in outrage from ranchers, Agri-business and even members of the U.S. congress. The outcry lead to the agency’s “Greening Headquarters Update” being removed last Tuesday from the agency’s website with an official statement being released that the “USDA does not endorse Meatless Monday”.

The USDA later said that the passage in the newsletter was included without proper clearance.

Peggy Nue, President of Monday Campaigns, said she was initially pleased that their initiative received the support of the USDA , and she was surprised at how fast the USDA reversed its position.

“It shouldn’t be considered a threatening idea,” she said. “We’re not saying give up meat entirely â€" just one day a week.”

The events are a significant boost to the movement which is trying to reduce the negative impact that livestock is having on the environment with a UN report finding that it was responsible for nearly 18% of all greenhouse emissions. By swopping a beef burger for a veggie burger on a Monday, you save the equivalent of 5395 grams of carbon dioxide.

The mixed messages that are being sent by the USDA show that the campaign is reaching the correct authorities who are starting to acknowledge what must be done to counteract climate change.