I’ve been in this business a long time—as both an activist and a dietitian—and I must say, I’ve never been so confused about all of the terminology and events and opportunities surrounding plant-based eating. My head is often spinning but I’m starting to see that this is a good thing. The reason there is so much going on is that lots of people are talking about animal agriculture.

When I first became a vegan the only people who even knew the term factory farming were other vegans. Now almost everyone knows what it is and that it’s bad. And little by little, people are starting to respond. The responses are often weak, that’s for sure. And the activist part of me feels disappointed about that.

But as a dietitian, I have a somewhat different take on it. Spend a few years providing dietary counseling to mainstream Americans and you develop a rather different idea about what constitutes progress. Anything that gets people thinking about the reasons to decrease intake of animal products is good. In that respect, even lukewarm efforts like Meatless Monday can make a contribution.

My biggest complaint about Meatless Monday is the focus on climate change and health, two virtually useless arguments for veganism. I refuse to let that stop me from taking advantage of Meatless Monday to promote my own agenda, though. I perceive it as an invitation to talk about factory farming and animal rights with all the Meatless Monday-ers I meet. It’s also a great opening for letters to the editor to share reasons for going vegan.

All by itself, Meatless Monday doesn’t get me too excited. As a springboard to more meaningful activism, though, it might have some merit.