On Monday, I wrote a blog post titled, “8 business moguls committed to putting you out of business.” It detailed the large investments these individuals have made in clean meats, plant-based proteins, vegan clothing lines and other companies that are based on elitist ideologies and the misguided notion that beef production is not sustainable.
It wasn’t surprising to have my email inbox fill with hate mail. After all, I often make a point of debunking the reasons why people choose to go meatless; challenging a belief system is deeply personal and can result in some angry letters. It goes with the territory, but the angry and violent email I received on Monday following my blog post struck me as an opportunity to talk about compassion as it relates to animal agriculture.
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Here is an excerpt from one message I received earlier this week. I’ve cleaned up the profanities and spelling errors.
“So it’s hard to be a cowboy these days it says in the article? So you poor little babies in the meat/dairy/torture/blood/guts industry are afraid of the end of your industry?
“How much longer can you people stay unconscious to the bloody, disgusting and cruel industry you’re in?
“The end IS near. Just go away quietly and stop lying about the unsustainable business you are in.
“Can I hang you by your leg and watch you bleed to death for the last moments of your life? Please tell me.
“And to Amanda- YOU LYING LITTLE DUMB _____!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It looks like you will write anything to make money. Even lie! Maybe you’re just stupid and don’t know.
“I hope you are all out of business very soon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
“Bye and may you all rest in peace and grow a heart with some compassion for animals. If you know what compassion is.”
READ: On the circle of life & PETA
Sadly, this isn’t the first time a vegan activist has suggested I be killed by having my throat slit, and it probably won’t be the last. As shocking as statements like these are, to me they send a message about the things I’m writing and the job I’m doing. These emails tell me that I’m on the right track.
Because someone is telling these individuals that they may have been told a lie. Someone is brave enough to stand up to the propagandists who are making money from fear mongering and dramatization of an industry they know nothing about. And it makes them so mad. It backs them into a corner, and they tend to lash out with violence, not the compassion they try to pretend they are filled with.
These activists and individuals don’t want cattle, pigs, sheep and poultry to live freely in nature as they claim; they want them to cease to exist. They don’t want these animals to nourish human lives; they think a bundle of kale and a spoonful of almond butter will help feed the world’s impoverished. They don’t want lifesaving by-products that livestock provide like insulin for diabetics or heart valves for replacement surgeries. They believe we can synthetically create alternatives for all of these things. And they don’t value human life. How could they when they are willing to talk to a total stranger the way they do?
READ: Beef's sustainability advantage
I didn’t respond directly to this person’s email, but I hope he reads this post. My message to him and others who fill my inbox with angry words is simple.
I’m a cattle rancher and am unapologetically so. I’m compassionate to my core.
I believe strongly in caring for our livestock. This means ensuring a newborn calf gets off to a great start with colostrum within the first 24 hours. This means providing the best nutrition possible for my herd and finding the best grains, hay and minerals to offer my cattle. This means providing access to clean water (even chopping ice in the winter time) to make sure my cattle have plenty to drink. This means offering shelter to project against wind, snow, rain and cold, but also offering plenty of acres to roam, graze and behave as nature intended.
As a rancher, I also strongly believe in taking care of people. This means we respectfully harvest these animals in a way that gives meaning to their life. We feed the hungry nutrient-rich, protein-dense meat that fuels their bodies, boosts brain health and performance (even fighting the effects of Alzheimer’s), builds muscles, helps maintain blood sugar levels to ward off diabetes, and is a great source of good fats that promote heart health.
READ: Could beef be the perfect food to prevent Alzheimer's?
I’m often accused of being biased because I’m in the cattle business and I write about the beef industry. Sure, you could argue that this is my job that pays the bills, but when the accuser suggests I’m in this for the money, I almost have to laugh (or cry).
I can think of a dozen other career paths I could have chosen that would have been more secure and financially viable than trying to make it as a cattle rancher. There is great risk, heartache, disappointment and uncontrollable variables to contend with, that only someone who has lived it can truly understand.
If someone is in the cattle business, I know that they truly love this life, not for the riches it brings to the bank account, but for the richness it brings to our families and the legacy we can build with our land and livestock.
No, I will not back down to folks like this who use angry words and threats, instead of compassion and understanding, to another human being. I hope one day this person will visit a ranch and see what this life is truly all about (although not mine, just in case he’s serious with his threats). I hope one day he can see that ranchers’ priorities are animal care, environmental stewardship and providing nourishing foods and life-enriching byproducts for other people, while respecting the circle of life that is sometimes difficult to grasp for those so far removed from it.
If that’s not compassion, I really don’t know what is. Thanks to all of you for reading and for being a part of this great beef community! I appreciate your fellowship and support!
Tune in tomorrow for part two in this discussion. Find out which Hollywood A-list actor has discovered the joys of animal agriculture and how he’s being skewered by these people for sharing his new passion on social media.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.