Farmers and ranchers represent 2% of the U.S. population, and vegans represent another 3%. Yet, the debate is strongly fueled on both sides, with the remaining 95% wondering which foods are healthy, safe, ethical and environmentally friendly to feed their families. As food producers, it’s important to alleviate the guilt associated with animal products, which is a challenge when faced with vegan-made holidays such as yesterday’s Great American Meatout.
Claiming to be the world's largest grassroots diet education campaign, The Great American Meatout hopes to help Americans kick the meat habit and explore a wholesome, compassionate diet of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. The 2012 goal of Meatout is to distribute free vegan food samples to 30,000 people, according to the event website.
As the Meatless Mondays trend continues to grow everywhere from college campuses to rural elementary schools, it may seem the battle is already lost. After all, vegans and animal rights activists seem to have a louder voice, more resources and manipulative scare tactics to promote a vegan society and abolish animal agriculture.
Meanwhile, celebrities continue to influence today’s teens. For example, Carrie Underwood, country superstar and strong supporter of HSUS, recently told SELF magazine, "I love eating and talking about food. I've been a vegetarian for seven years. But after seeing a friend who looked amazing and had recently gone vegan, I thought, What's holding me back? Now I'm 95% vegan. Sometimes you're at a birthday party and there's cake and...you know, you can't resist. My veganism is based on a concern about where my food is coming from. In my perfect world, I'd have webcams wherever food is processed so I'd know how clean it is. I'll never eat meat again, because I look and feel better without it, but if I could raise my own cows and chickens and produce my own eggs and cheese, it would be awesome! The food would taste better, because the animals would be happy."
So, what are beef producers supposed to do? Keep on doing what you’ve always done -- produce safe, wholesome beef and educate consumers and the media about the things you do on your ranch to care for the animals and the environment. Despite the rhetoric from Hollywood and vegan activists, the truth is on our side. Animal proteins and fats are good for you!
What more can you do? How about post a favorite beef recipe on Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube or Twitter? Check out this recipe video I put together last summer for inspiration.
I declare today American Meat-In Day, and I’m going to celebrate with a big, juicy ribeye tonight for supper. What’s your favorite beef cut and how will you help share and celebrate meat as a healthy part of a well-balanced diet today?