By Duggan Flanakin
The average American ate some 220 pounds of red meat and poultry in 2018, according to the s, surpassing a record set in 2004. But some politicians have joined anti-meat and climate change activists in a massive effort to restructure the American diet – and to ensure ... and mandate ... that the rest of the world will be stuck with a mostly plant-based diet.
Last March, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio shocked America’s meat producers by announcing the expansion of “meatless Mondays” to all New York City public schools. The reason? “To keep our lunch and planet green for generations to come.” So now they claim eating meat also threatens the planet.
Monday Campaignsis a national organization that collaborates with the Center for a Livable Future (CLF) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Its goal is to reduce US meat consumption by 15% “for our personal health and the health of the planet.”
Finnish researchers in 2012 investigated the intended and unintended effects of mandatory “vegetarian days” in Helsinki schools. While the compulsory restrictions “increased healthy and sustainable dietary patterns,” they also resulted in “psychological reactance, hedonic dislike, and noncompliance.” Refuseniks at a Finnish military base leave behind dumpsters of empty pizza boxes on forced-vegan day.
Liberal-progressive local governments are already looking at replicating de Blasio’s bold move. For example, a resolution calling for Meatless Mondays in Hawaii public schools came close to enactment in the Hawaii State Legislature in 2019, and supporters are hopeful it will become law next year.
One of the world’s leading voices condemning meat consumption is the United Nations. In 2018 it bestowed one of its “Champions of the Earth” awards to Patrick O. Brown of Impossible Foods and Ethan Brown of Beyond Meat. The awards follow and buttress UN Environment Programme claims that “our use of animals as a food-production technology has brought us to the verge of catastrophe.”
Both Browns insist that, because “the destructive impact of animal agriculture on our environment far exceeds that of any other technology on Earth, there is no pathway to achieve the Paris climate objectives without a massive decrease in the scale of animal agriculture.”
The anti-meat campaign has hit other top echelons of the UN. Christiana Figueres, former executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, recently stated her hope that restaurants of the future will “treat carnivores the same way that smokers are treated [today]. If they want to eat meat, they can do it outside the restaurant.” But not the way they’re treating meat at COP-25 in Madrid.
The UN is also touting a “study,” published in the journal Nature, which claims that “huge reductions in meat eating are essential to avoid dangerous climate change.” The authors implore western countries to cut their beef consumption by 90 percent.
Then in almost its next breath, the UN hosts yet another gala affair and lavish meals at 5-star hotels in Bali, Brazil and other lovely locations, attended by countless thousands of activists, bureaucrats, reporters and politicians. Why should these ruling elites have to worry about “carbon footprints” and rules they promulgate for the rest of us, the world’s unwashed masses, who will comply or face the consequences?
The Economist published results of two other “studies” claiming that going vegan for two-thirds of meals could cut food-related carbon emissions by 60 percent. Total veganism is “the most environmentally friendly,” with “die-hard leaf-eaters claiming to have knocked 85% off their carbon footprint.”
It all follows a familiar, predictable, totalitarian pattern that ought to set off global alarms. Find a target of “eco-progressive” hate. Vilify the target, and demand that it be restricted or eradicated – to prevent yet another civilizational or planetary cataclysm. Redefine science and morality to drive the agenda. Reward and publicize those who support the claims and campaign. Condemn and silence anyone who questions or challenges them. Impose new rules.
On climate change, assume and assert that carbon dioxide and methane are the primary or only factors. That any weather and climate changes today are unprecedented, existential threats. That anyone who challenges these assertions is a “denier” who must be silenced, jailed, exiled and re-educated.
Danish environmental economist Bjorn Lomborg, mocks the anti-meat “studies” and arguments. Lomborg is a vegetarian himself but says 1.45 billion of the world’s people are vegetarians because of their extreme poverty, and many of them desperately want to be able to afford meat in their diets.
He chastises those who claim going vegetarian will cut “carbon footprints” in half, noting that food-related emissions account for just 20% of total carbon dioxide releases. A study of Swedish vegetarians found that lifelong vegetarianism would reduce net carbon dioxide emissions just 2 percent. Meanwhile, Chinese and Indian coal-fired power plant emissions dwarf those savings 100 times over.
Moreover, healthy vegetarian diets require very careful attention to food and supplements, to ensure proper nutrition; vegan diets even more so. That’s impossible in impoverished countries and families.
Enormous environmental and agricultural problems also loom. Cattle, sheep and pigs can graze on lands that would be plowed under for food crops under an all-veggie dictatorship. But that same system is determined to replace fossil fuels with wind turbines, solar panels, biofuels and batteries that would make tens of millions of acres unavailable or unsuitable for growing the needed food crops.
And those same activists, bureaucrats and politicians also want to ban modern hybrid and biotech seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and mechanized farming. We’d get even less food from diminished acreage. More and more people would become increasingly malnourished, starve, go blind, and die.
Reduced atmospheric carbon dioxide would mean plants would be deprived of their basic building block – and need more water in a water-starved world. If the planet cools, instead of warming, we would have far less arable land, shorter growing seasons, and still worse agricultural conditions. More would starve.
Do you know what’s in those plant-based meats – those ultra-processed imitation meats that are assembled in industrial factories and enhanced with chemicals to make vegan burgers more tasty and palatable? Tasty ingredients like methylcellulose, titanium dioxide, propylene glycol, ferric phosphate and magnesium carbonate. Do grasshoppers and other tasty insects count as meat?
The truth is, the “vegan revolution” is overstated. A recent Gallup poll found only 5% of Americans are vegetarian and just 3% are vegan. But 16% of liberals are vegetarian or vegan, compared with just 2% of conservatives. The numbers are much higher for younger progressives in the USA and elsewhere.
Those numbers almost certainly reflect the constant indoctrination, fear-mongering and silencing of skeptical voices in schools from kindergarten through graduate school; on social and in large segments of traditional media; in political circles; and in the UN and other unaccountable government organizations.
It also helps explain how and why Goldsmiths, in the University of London, has been able to ban beef from the entire campus. Goldsmiths professor France Corner has sounded the predictable alarm: “The growing global call for organizations to take seriously their responsibilities for halting climate change is impossible to ignore.” Especially if his campus is as intolerant of other views as are so many others – and so willing to lash out verbally, physically and with threats of expulsion against any contrarians.
It’s one more example of our “progressive” elites taking us down the road to totalitarian rule – all in the name of saving us and “the only planet we have” from imminent manmade catastrophe. Whether the goal is to enlist vegans and vegetarians in the “climate catastrophe” movement, or to include veganism as a basic tenet of that movement, the result is the same.
Either be prepared for more anti-meat protests, more Meatless Mondays, more assaults on the livestock industry, more calls for taxing meat to raise its cost above what ordinary people can afford – and more totalitarian control of our lives. Or start fighting back against these intolerant control freaks.
Duggan Flanakin is Director of Policy Research at the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org)