It seems like only yesterday that mainstream media sources like Forbes were condemning Fox Business News economist Larry Kudlow and other Republicans for “falsely claiming” that President Biden’s Green New Deal would force people to stop eating meat. The condemnation ranged from Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC lamenting “the Right’s foolish lie” to a Media Matters grenade, “Right-wing media invented a Biden ban on meat because they’re incentivized to lie.”
Turns out the liars are those who “falsely accused” Kudlow. As the show transcript shows, Kudlow did not say Biden had imposed a meat ban. He merely quoted a University of Michigan research study which he says found that, to meet the Biden Green New Deal targets, “America has to, get this, America has to stop eating meat, stop eating poultry and fish, seafood, eggs, dairy, and animal-based fats.”
What is true is that there has been a growing campaign to force-feed massive reductions in meat consumption “to save the planet.” As Bustle reported in 2019, the Green New Deal “explicitly mentions the importance of dealing with a very specific [and, as Bustle adds, ‘long-documented’] environmental issue: cow farts.”
The Bustle article also notes that, not only does the Green New Deal target cow farts, but the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s annual letter also stated that stopping climate change will be easier if media coverage focused on “trucks, cement, and cow farts too.”
Detractors also claimed that Biden lacks authority to impose restrictions on meat. But Michelle Obama rewrote the dietary rules for public schools with even less of an imprimatur.
Whether or not any current or future Biden climate policy will seek to diminish meat consumption (for example, via taxation or regulation), yesterday’s radical kooks are now in power and are already imposing their will on mainstream media.
There are plenty of people who want to take away your automobile, gas stove, and gas furnace. Now many of the same people are coming for your steaks and hamburgers, bratwursts, bacon, and ham, even your fried (or grilled) chicken and Thanksgiving turkey.
Take the recipe website Epicurious, which recently announced that, “Beef won’t appear in new Epicurious recipes, articles, or newsletters. It will not show up on our homepage. It will be absent from our Instagram feed.” The webzine urged its readers to think of the move “not as anti-beef, but ‘pro-planet’.”
Spokespeople David Tamarkin and Maggie Hoffman asserted that cows are 20 times less efficient to raise than beans and roughly three times less efficient than poultry and pork. Worse, according to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, 9 percent of greenhouse gas emissions globally come from livestock (and everything involved in raising it).
According to Tamarkin and Hoffman, “We know that some people might assume that this decision signals some sort of vendetta against cows—or the people who eat them. But this decision was not made because we hate hamburgers (we don’t!).” Except, of course, that they then call the beef industry “one of the world’s worst climate offenders.”
The authors, fearing that failure to march in lockstep with the Green Empire will leave us “with no planet at all,” instruct their readers that, “Addressing climate change requires legislation, international cooperation, and buy-in from the corporate sector.”
And what can each individual do, perchance? They recommend: Just don’t buy beef. “Every time you abstain from beef at the grocery store or a restaurant, you send a signal” that reverberates.
Nextar reported that reactions to the Epicurious decision were “highly mixed, with some applauding the recipe platform and others accusing it of vilifying the meat.”
Renowned food critic Mark Bittman, in an interview with NPR’s Michel Martin in a program entitled “Food World Ramps Up The War On Meat,” asserted that the amount of meat the U.S. is producing is “unsustainable.” He asserted that, for everybody to eat as much meat as Americans eat, we would need four times the resources – petroleum, land, water, waste disposal – that the world has now. “There just isn’t the room or the resources for all of this to happen.”
Much of this turning against meat is fueled by climate catatonia, the fear of coming world food shortages and a return to Malthusian scarcity. Or to 1970s “smallness.” [Diet for a Small Planet and Small Is Beautiful hail from that era.]
A 2019 NBC report quotes James Gerber, co-director and lead scientist of the Global Landscapes Initiative at the University of Minnesota. Gerber said that we must reduce total food waste because it releases the potent greenhouse gas methane as it rots. Gerber also said, “If people just eat a little bit less red meat, it can lead to a big reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.”
A follow-up NBC report focused on the 2019 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which encouraged as a way to mitigate global warming’s impacts the widespread adoption of veganism or vegetarianism, which “could reduce the equivalent of up to 8 gigatons of carbon dioxide per year.”
The Economist a while back announced that, “Going vegan for two-thirds of meals could cut food-related carbon emissions by 60 percent.” The article cites a joint University of Minnesota-Oxford University study that a 50-gram chunk of red meat is associated with at least 20 times as much greenhouse-gas emitted and 100 times as much land use than a 100-gram portion of vegetables.
The report also claimed that, averaged across all the ecological indicators “the authors used,” red meat was about 35 times as “damaging” (to the environment?) as a bowl of greens. Clearly, there is a drumbeat against meat. Last fall the popular ‘zine Vox posted an article by Lili Pike entitled, “Why we need policies to reduce meat consumption now.”
Pike cites a recent study, reported on in Science, that claimed that, under a business-as-usual model, food systems emissions alone would cause the plant to cross the sainted 1.5-degree Celsius Deathstar Point. Pike further claimed that the food system is responsible for about 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and growing.
What this means, she posited, is that the food system will have to share the “world’s remaining carbon budget” with the biggest source of emissions: the energy sector. Much more importantly, of course, both the non-food and food sectors will have to decarbonize to stay within the highly contrived Paris targets.
Even “skeptical environmentalist” (and self-confessed vegetarian) Bjorn Lomborg has joined the discussion with the “practical solution.” “We should focus on research to develop cleaner, maybe artificial, meat. And cleaner energy.”
He added, chiding anti-meat crusaders, suggesting that, “It would be a better use of their time to push for more spending on development of artificial meat, which is showing much greater promise than the idea that all the planet’s meat-eaters will develop a taste for vegan alternatives.”
That … might not go over. At least, not in Texas.
The Texas House, over objections from Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat, and vegan advocates, has voted to approve a bill intending to prohibit the makers of plant-based meat alternatives from using the words “meat,” “beef,” “chicken,” or “pork” on product packaging. These stipulations would also apply to the manufacturers of insect-based alternatives or cell-cultured alternatives.
Texans are not, however, demanding a ban on veganism. Heck, we even let people call bean stew chili.
May 20, 2021 By Duggan Flanakin