According to an article published by the Huffington Post in August, while speaking at a “Farmers & Ranchers For Trump” event, Vice President Mike Pence vowed that he would protect America’s consumption of red meat. Pence took aim at Sen. Kamala Harris when he claimed that she wanted to reduce the amount of red meat Americans could consume. The statement brought the crowd to a roaring “boo.” However, Pence quickly promised that as long as he and President Donald Trump remained in power, Americans could continue to consume as much red meat as they want.
So, is Harris actually trying to take our burgers away?
According to an article published by LiveKindly a year ago, Harris discussed red meat during CNN’s climate talks while she was in the race for the 2020 presidential bid. During the conversation, she stated that she would push to change dietary guidelines to reduce the consumption of red meat. Although she suggested that the guidelines would change, Americans would still be able to choose what they order at a restaurant for themselves.
While Vice President Pence framed Kamala’s viewpoints as radical, they are far from it. In fact, Kamela’s viewpoints on red meat have been echoed by other democratic leaders, such as Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Cory Booker, who all backed a plan to eliminate factory farming by 2040.
The meat industry has been under scrutiny for years and it is not just for the carbon emissions. During the pandemic, the BBC reported on the working environments within the processing factories that led to numerous COVID-19 outbreaks. The outbreaks not only highlighted poor factory conditions, but how the meat industry profits off of the most vulnerable populations. For example, workers at these factories in Germany were believed to receive poor training and also had poor language skills, which made proper communication during such a vital time nearly impossible.
With the growing scrutiny surrounding the industry’s sustainability and ethics, consumers, restaurants, and grocery stores have been flocking to alternatives. Companies such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have transformed the way we look at meat and continue to grow in popularity. In fact, according to Impossible Food’s 2019 impact report, the company is on a mission to replace the demand for animal-based products by 2035.
So, are Harris’ statements about changing the way we eat radical? Or are they inevitable?
If we look at where the industry is heading, there appears to be a bright future for plant-based alternatives and the meat industry will have to adjust to consumers’ values to survive. However, electing leaders that support sustainable dietary guidelines is not only a win for the environment, but also for animal welfare.