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A&E >  Food

Powered by Plants: No, Biden isn’t banning your red meat, but you could boycott it yourself

The Beyond Burger has “marbling” to emulate the fat in traditional burgers.  (Stacy Zarin Goldberg/For the Washington Post)
The Beyond Burger has “marbling” to emulate the fat in traditional burgers. (Stacy Zarin Goldberg/For the Washington Post)
By Jonathan Glover For The Spokesman-Review

If you were hoping President Trump’s ouster from the White House would naturally lead to a gargantuan shrinkage in “fake news,” well, I’ve got some … news.

It hasn’t.

Last week, the misinformation machine – freshly oiled and tuned up – somehow transformed a virtual climate summit speech by President Biden about the United States’ pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions into a red-flag warning (pun intended) that the president was going to effectively ban red meat from each and every American’s diet.

In no part of his speech – not before, not during and not after – did Biden make any mention of Americans needing to change their diets, let alone cutting back on meat. No matter – folks will make it up anyway.

The following day, according to PolitiFact, Fox News and Fox Business Network “repeatedly and baselessly claimed that the move would also force Americans to say goodbye to hamburgers and steaks.”

“To meet the Biden Green New Deal targets, America has to, get this, America has to stop eating meat,” said Fox Business Network host Larry Kudlow, according to PolitiFact. “No burger on July 4. No steaks on the barbecue.”

Before long, the outrage machine – feeding off the gaseous fumes of misinformation – began whirling. The tweets rolled in. The Facebook posts cranked. The counter-outrage quote-tweeted. And here we are, trying to digest it all.

That’s all to say, let’s turn the temperature down a bit, huh? While Biden didn’t say anything about cutting back red meat, there are plenty of cogent reasons to at least entertain the idea.

Does that mean the Protein Police are going to physically remove the beef from your grill this summer? Of course not. But – admittedly – it would make for quite the revival of the Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef?” ad campaign.

Reason 1: Plant-based meat is pretty darn good (especially the “beef”).

In case you haven’t noticed, plant-based meat is kind of a big deal.

For the past few years, real-tasting plant meat such as Beyond and Impossible Foods have been cranking out innovative products that look, taste and feel like the real thing. (And if that sounds up your alley, I wrote last month about the best products on the market).

You can fry it, bake it, mold it into little meatballs and eat it with spaghetti and, yes, grill it. Once it hits that hot metal, it’ll sound like the real thing. And if you press on it nice and hard, the fat will seep out, and the flames will thank you.

What’s more, in terms of calories and protein, it’s exactly like the real thing, studies have shown. And, there’s no cholesterol – but there is plenty of sodium, so use sparingly.

It stands to reason, too, that as demand goes up, price will go down.

Reason 2: The concept of factory farms isn’t great.

Most people – no matter how dyed-in-the-wool in love with meat they are – will admit that, as an idea, factory farming isn’t great.

You’re taking the efficiency, technology and lack of humanity that is modern factory methods and introducing millions of live animals to the mix. Chickens are stuffed beak-to-tail-feather in large open rooms (or even worse, individual cages), never to see the light of day. Pigs, which are as smart as dogs, are forced into tiny pens. And cows, in many ways, have it worst of all.

Most of the animals are killed long before they reach life expectancy.

Factory farming practices are why I originally went vegetarian at age 18 in 2008. I’m sad to say the landscape doesn’t look all that much better. According to a recent study, 99% of U.S. farmed animals are living in factory farms.

So, while most people like to imagine the meat they’re eating has had a happy life before slaughter, reality just doesn’t agree.

Reason 3: No, really, animal agriculture is kind of horrible for our planet.

And here we get to the heart of the matter: Everyone knows animal agriculture isn’t great for the planet. The problem is, what do we do about it?

Well, if reason No. 1 jibed with you, you’re OK with eating an alternative. And if reason No. 2 spoke to you, you’re probably already an ethical vegetarian or vegan.

But if neither ruffled your feathers, then congratulations – you just might be an environmentalist. And environmentalists hate animal agriculture.

That’s because, according to study after study after study, animal agriculture is shown to be the second-largest contributor to human-made greenhouse gases (cows in particular love to burp and fart) and is the leading cause of deforestation.

What’s more, it’s an energy black hole. For every eight calories you give to a cow, you get just one in return.

And a 2013 study found that one-third of all agricultural water use – which already accounts for 92% of humanity’s freshwater footprint – is used for animal agriculture, showing that “animal products have a large water footprint.”

Wouldn’t it make more sense to cut out the middle person and go directly to the source?

For some who love to react (and overreact), this all probably sounds a lot like Cancel Culture for Big Beef.

It’s not. But maybe – just maybe – you ought to join in on the Fake Biden Ban.

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