Will Netanyahu Become Israel's Poster Boy for Meatless Monday?

After voicing concern over animal rights, PM asks to be briefed on the international growing campaign, says he hardly eats meat.

Taking a further - if only symbolic - step in support of animal rights, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu published a statement on Sunday that said he and his wife, Sara, "hardly eat meat."

Several weeks ago, I published an exchange that took place during a weekly cabinet meeting concerning animal rights. Netanyahu said at the time that after he read the book "From Animals into Gods: A Brief History of Humankind" by Dr. Yuval Noah Harari, he "understood that animals are more conscious than we thought," adding that the new information was bothering him, making him think twice on the subject.

Netanyahu's comment surprised the ministers, prompting Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, a vegetarian since her teens, to say, "Prime Minister, hearing you say this is like finding an oasis in the desert."

Now, the Prime Minister's Office has issued a statement saying Netanyahu and his wife were avoiding eating meat, adding that their son, Yair, has been a vegetarian for several years.

The statement was published after the conclusion of a meeting between the Netanyahus and former news anchor Miki Haimovich, an animal rights activist who is leading the Meatless Monday project in Israel. Haimovich briefed the couple on the international campaign as well as the health and environmental consequences of increased meat consumption.

Netanyahu told Haimovich of the influence Harari's book had on him. Sara Netanyahu told her that she "came from a family that was very much aware of the issue." The prime minister's wife, whose father, Shmuel Ben Artzi, was a vegetarian, said she was eager to help "raise awareness and sensitivity to the suffering caused to animals" during meat production.

Haimovich told the couple, the statement said, that if everyone refrained from eating meat only once a week, meat consumption would drop drastically.

"The idea behind Meatless Monday isn't to remove meat from the menu but rather to add worthy alternatives to main vegetarian dishes, that would offer a choice," she explained.

Yaron Kaminsky
Avishag Shaar-Yashuv