There are three reasons why limiting your consumption of red meat is a good thing: It’s better for you, it’s better for animals, and it’s better for the environment. Those are all incontrovertible facts.
Red meat is also delicious. It’s a part of our heritage, a staple of our holiday meals and a relatively inexpensive source of protein for all Americans.
These two sets of facts aren’t at odds with one another. They comprise the two sides of a debate Americans should be having, with plenty of room for compromise. But that isn’t how our country works anymore, because absolutism rules the day, and its purveyors seek total conquest.
Only about 2 percent of the nation identifies as vegetarian, and only 1 in 4 of those Americans is vegan. Yet somehow meat consumption is becoming another bitter political wedge threatening to further widen our impassable divide.
A small but highly influential contingent of liberal extremists in our media has fired the opening salvos. The odds against this cohort may appear insurmountable, but their strategy is tried and true, and they’re laying the groundwork.
A year ago, The New York Times ran an opinion column headlined “The End of Meat Is Here” The author ridiculously equated meat consumption with racism. The majority of meat-industry workers were people of color getting exposed to COVID. Ipso facto, the column claimed, burgers are bigotry.
Then, this April, the popular food Web site Epicurious announced it would no longer feature beef in any new recipes, articles or newsletters. Editors assured the outlet’s fans this was not some vendetta against people who eat cows. “We think of this decision as not anti-beef, but rather pro-planet,” they explained. “Our shift is solely about sustainability, about not giving airtime to one of the world’s worst climate offenders.” Meat, after all, accounts for 14.5 percent of carbon emissions.
They don’t talk about the health benefits of eating less meat or the cruelty of industrialized production much anymore because those haven’t moved the needle. Instead, anti-meaters associate your dinnertime staples with hot-button issues because it shifts the conflict from herbivores against omnivores to left against right, urbane against deplorable, educated against working class. This improves their odds significantly.
The tactic both scares and shames the left’s own side and vilifies the opposition. The term “carnist” is already a thing. They have to create a label, and it needs to evoke evil. Sexist, fascist, racist . . . carnist. Perfect. It’s exactly what they did with climate change. They affixed the word “denier” to anyone who questions the severity of, or proposed remedies for, our environmental challenges, disgracefully linking perfectly rational critics with Holocaust denial.
Of course, only a total imbecile thinks eating beef is racist, and while beef production does produce greenhouse gases, the 14.5 percent contribution represents all meat and dairy for the entire globe. America’s beef production alone is far less impactful.
The really sad part is that all the misdirection, hyperbole and exaggeration is hurting the very causes about which liberals claim to care so passionately. We are polluting this planet. The mass industrialized production of meat is cruel and inhumane, and it’s easy to see why anyone who bears witness finds it difficult to partake in its proceeds. But pitting Americans against one another by capitalizing on our existential fears and political differences leaves both sides unwilling to compromise.
The consumption of red meat has been steadily climbing for decades — until last year that is, when the pounds eaten per capita dropped from 111.9 to 111.4 in the United States. This reduction is most likely due to advances in plant-based meat substitutes. No, they aren’t perfect. Thus far, it’s impossible to make an Impossible Steak, and Beyond Brisket is beyond the capability of franken-meat scientists.
But we are moving in the right direction now and could continue moving forward if only progress were good enough for progressives. They could singlehandedly offset the methane emissions of all the cattle in Texas if they would simply stop spreading so much bull.