Who’s winning? Us or the anti-beef activists?

You might think the anti-beef crowd is winning the battle for the minds and stomachs of consumers. Maybe not.

Burt Rutherford, Senior Editor

February 20, 2019

3 Min Read
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Those of you who are loyal readers of BEEF Daily and the Friday email newsletter, BEEF Cow-Calf Weekly, know that we’ve devoted a lot of digital real estate to plant-based meat alternatives and two recently-released headline-making attacks on beef’s role in just about everything.

In noodling about all that—what’s going on in that realm as well as how much attention BEEF should pay to it—I’ve come up with a couple of thoughts. So here, for what it’s worth, is my thinking.

You might recall my recent musings on my experience with the Beyond Burger. The aftermath of that adventure causes me to think that more research needs to be done on how much noxious gasses that vegetarians and vegans emit compared with meat eaters.

READ: Vegetarian options are endless but consumers still want to eat beef

We know from animal science research that cattle on a higher quality diet, such as grain-fed cattle in a feedyard, digest feed more efficiently than cattle on a high roughage diet. From that, I think it’s logical to assume that methane and Co2 emissions are less from cattle on a better diet.

We’re talking ruminants versus monogastrics here, so making linear assumptions is fraught with problems. But I think it’s also logical that humans on a high roughage diet would emit more noxious gasses than humans on a more balanced diet that includes meat. At least that was my experience. It would be instructive to see what science-based research has to say.

Secondly, as BEEF Daily Editor Amanda Radke points out, it seems the anti-beef crowd is ramping up their attacks on you and your cattle. That’s concerning.

But then there’s this: Beef demand both here and overseas is at an all-time high, at least for high quality, grain-fed U.S. beef.

Trying to reconcile those two things leads me to this: The anti-beef vegans and vegetarians are losing. Big time.

Those of you who grew up in the country, as I’m sure most of you did, can fully relate to this analogy. So can your dog. What happens when you back a skunk into a corner? It stinks up the place. Those who live in rattlesnake country know what happens when you agitate the snake.

That, in my opinion, explains the ramp-up in attacks on beef. Everything the anti-beef activists have done in the past (I have another term for them. I’ll let you guess what it is.) is blowing up in their faces. People with a head enough to think for themselves are eating more beef than ever before.

READ: New study shows vegans are unhappy and sick more often

Einstein is reported to have said that the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. Expect more insanity from the anti-beef crowd. They’re grasping and the more they grasp, the more they alienate people who don’t want an activist telling them how to live their lives.

Does that mean we should let up in promoting beef? Absolutely not. Let me repeat that for emphasis because it is so critical for your future—we absolutely must continue promoting beef.

We need to continue and even ramp up the message that beef is part of a healthy diet. We’re winning and we need to hit the gas pedal even harder.

But expect the attacks to continue. Remember what happens when you back a skunk into the corner.


About the Author(s)

Burt Rutherford

Senior Editor, BEEF Magazine

Burt Rutherford is director of content and senior editor of BEEF. He has nearly 40 years’ experience communicating about the beef industry. A Colorado native and graduate of Colorado State University with a degree in agricultural journalism, he now works from his home base in Colorado. He worked as communications director for the North American Limousin Foundation and editor of the Western Livestock Journal before spending 21 years as communications director for the Texas Cattle Feeders Association. He works to keep BEEF readers informed of trends and production practices to bolster the bottom line.

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