Colorado's MeatOut Day Promotes A Big Lie
It’s no secret that Colorado cowboys don’t care much for their Governor. And judging by Gov. Jared Polis’ actions, it would seem the feeling is mutual.
Polis poked the eyes of cowboys last month when he declared March 20 (the first day of spring) as MeatOut Day, asking the state’s residents to forego meat for one day. The proclamation was intended to educate consumers about the “benefits of a healthful, plant-based diet,” according to the Governor’s office.
Rubbish, say ranchers! “It felt like a slap in the face,” Lane Iacovetto, whose husband is a fourth-generation rancher, told The Steamboat Pilot. “You would never see a ‘no tourism’ day in Colorado.”
Indeed. Tourism brings more than $24 billion to the state each year, and state officials estimate tourism dollars save each Colorado household $707 annually in taxes due to the $1.5 billion in state and local taxes paid each year by visitors.
Agriculture? The state’s 34,000 farmers and ranchers contribute more than $47 billion annually to the state’s economy, with more than 17,000 jobs related to agriculture. Livestock account for more than $6 billion of the state’s cash agricultural receipts. Colorado has a total of 2.8 million cattle and calves, with more than 1 million of those in commercial feedlots.
So, yeah, MeatOut Day is a “slap in the face.”
Credit the Governor’s press secretary, however, for his attempt to put a good spin on the insult to cowboys.
“The governor’s office gets hundreds of requests for proclamations throughout the year and rarely declines these nonbinding ceremonial proclamations that get auto penned by the governor,” Conor Cahill, Polis’ press secretary, said in an email to The Steamboat Pilot. “For example, the governor has issued proclamations for Agriculture Day, Colorado Farm Bureau Day and Truck Driver Appreciation Day.”
Except, those would all be days of appreciation – not blatantly calling for residents to take a day off from an industry as MeatOut Day attempts. Further, critics of MeatOut Day believe the Governor’s action was influenced by his spouse, First Gentleman Marlon Reis, who is vegetarian and an animal rights activist.
On its own, Colorado’s MeatOut Day is likely to have miniscule impact on actual consumption of meat, and cowboys are right to call it for what it is – a slap in the face to ranchers everywhere. More importantly, reducing meat consumption is unlikely to provide the desired impact on the environment or the climate.
A leading authority on cows and climate is Frank Mitloehner, an animal scientist and air quality expert at the University of California at Davis.
“Many people continue to think avoiding meat as infrequently as once a week will make a significant difference to the climate,” Mitloehner said. “But according to one recent study, even if Americans eliminated all animal protein from their diets, they would reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by only 2.6 percent. According to our research at the University of California, Davis, if the practice of Meatless Monday were to be adopted by all Americans, we’d see a reduction of only 0.5 percent.”
In other words, the Governor’s MeatOut Day will have little effect except to further promote a big lie about cows and climate change.