I am a rancher, a beef lover, a writer and a mom, and no which hat I'm wearing, the latest issue of Junior Scholastic has me pretty fired up.
In the latest issue of this paid subscription publication that goes to 250,000 schools across the United States, Junior Scholastic printed an article that reads, “This Meat Could Help The Planet.”
Written by Rebecca Zissou, the article reads, “Cars and factories get most of the blame for polluting the environment. But another major offender could be the beef on your plate. Scientists think they have a solution. As you read, think about: How does eating beef impact the environment?
The article reads like an advertisement for fake meat, with all the popular anti-beef rhetoric. Blame climate change on cow burps and farts, and blame it on the grain, water and land used to produce a burger. Oh, and if you want to protect the planet, just cut back, you gluttonous kids!
But don’t take it from the author. Follow the lead of Nadia Nazar, who became a vegetarian in middle school and urges other kids to do the same.
“I’m proud that I’m not contributing to the effect that meat has on the climate,” says Nazar, in the article for Junior Scholastic.
The number of emails and messages I have received from angry parents and teachers who have discovered this propaganda and realized it was being presented to their school-aged children was almost overwhelming.
Listen, there’s one thing I’ve realized as I’ve covered the actions of animal right and environmental extremist groups over the years — they are cut from the same cloth and are literally working in collaboration to take individual ranchers off the land and to take meat, dairy and eggs off the dinner table.
This isn’t fear-mongering. The proof is right in plain sight. These groups are pushing to enact government control over our food system and a dictated, one-size-fits-all plant-based diet for all people.
And all that this will accomplish is ending small businesses, depleting natural resources, increasing our pollutants and making us all sicker, fatter and sadder.
So, Junior Scholastic, instead of printing this obviously biased propaganda, here’s what I wish you knew about beef production:
1. Did you know that when livestock, including ruminant animals like sheep and cattle, graze on the land, they work in concert with nature to up-cycle grass, crop residues and by-products that would otherwise end up in landfills into great-tasting, nutrient-dense, protein-rich beef?
2. Did you know that 70% of the world’s surface is not fit for farming or development? This means pastures that are often rough, rocky, steep and arid would become barren wastelands unless cattle grazed on them.
3. Did you know that when cattle graze the land, they promote new growth with each bite they graze? Natural fertilizers, their manure enriches the organic matter of the soil. Meanwhile, they reduce the spread of wildfire by consuming brush and they aerate the soil with their hooves with every step. Proper grassland management improves soil health.
4. Did you know that if we plowed up every pasture in an attempt to grow plant-based alternatives, we would lose that all-important soil cover which protects the topsoil, captures moisture and carbon, and reduces erosion? Just like when the buffalo roamed this nation, cattle absolutely benefit the land.
5. Calorie-for-calorie — beef gives us the best bang for our buck. Did you know that it would take seven tablespoons of peanut butter (670 calories), 3.5 cups of black beans (374 calories), or 1.25 cups of tofu (236) calories to receive the same 25 grams of protein available in a 3-ounce serving of beef (180) calories?
6. What’s more, did you know that total direct greenhouse gas emissions from the U.S. livestock industry have declined 11% since 1961, while production of livestock meat has more than doubled?
7. And did you also know that compared to 1977, today’s beef industry produces the same amount of beef with 33% fewer cattle?
8. Did you forget that the greatest contributors of greenhouse gas emissions are electricity (28%), transportation (28%), and industry (22%) while U.S. animal agriculture contributes just 3.9% of total emissions, according to the EPA?
9. Did you know that if every American eliminated animal protein from their diets, it would only reduce emissions by 2.6%? And did you know that if every American practiced Meatless Mondays as this article suggests, the reduction would be just 0.5%?
10. And finally, did you know that we utilize beef animals from nose to tail, deriving not just steaks and burgers, but beneficial, life-saving and enriching by-products like makeup, leather, pharmaceuticals, paints, deodorants and more? Have you ever considered the eco-footprint of the synthetic, plastic replacements to these by-products?