“Who says meat has to come from animals?”
That’s the marketing strategy behind Beyond Meat, the plant-based burger startup now available in thousands of retail stores coast-to-coast. But calling ground soy or pea protein meat is not nearly as offensive as Beyond Meat’s next claim.
“Building meat without the animal requires fewer resources, making it a much more efficient and sustainable process.”
If you were raised on a ranch or around a feedlot, you’ll likely dispute that claim. But what if you’re, oh…let’s say, a 7-foot, 21-year-old from Vantaa, Finland? Lauri Markkanen is that person, and he has just announced he’s given up red meat “as a concrete step towards minimizing my personal carbon footprint.”
Markkanen announced on Twitter in November that he’s calling on his followers to make a difference by making “sustainable choices.” Apparently, Markkanen doesn’t know about beef’s sustainability.
Okay, so a giant from northern Europe doesn’t eat beef, why should you care? First, because, as the winner of the genetic lottery, Markkanen pulls down a cool $4 million plus per year playing basketball for the Chicago Bulls. And, he has nearly 100,000 Twitter followers, most of whom are likely millennials and most of whom probably can’t tell the difference between a cow and a bull. In other words, shorter, clumsier versions of Lauri Markkanen.
Claiming he wants to “inspire everyone to commit to sustainable choices,” Markkanen has partnered with Neste in this public relations campaign. Not familiar with Neste? It’s a Finnish oil refining and engineering company.
You read that right. A 7-footer you’ve never heard of has joined with an oil company in a campaign to tell the Twitter world not to eat meat in order to save the planet. You can’t make this up!
But we can fight back with truth, like the fact U.S. cattlemen are producing roughly the same amount of beef today as in 1977 with one-third fewer cattle. And that fewer cattle mean less emissions.
One of the best sources of science-based facts about beef, and a champion of the livestock industries, is University of California, Davis, professor Frank Mitloehner, who says it is “demonstrably wrong” when activists claim meat production generates more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector.
Mitloehner’s work at UC Davis focuses on ways in which animal agriculture affects air quality and climate change. He says that if Americans eliminated all animal protein from their diets they would reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by only 2.6 percent. According his research at UC Davis, “if the practice of Meatless Monday were to be adopted by all Americans, we’d see a reduction of only 0.5 percent.”
Markkanen’s attempt to encourage environmental awareness is admirable. His efforts would have more impact if he were to direct his Twitter followers to the science-based observations of Dr. Mitloehner, on Twitter @GHGGuru.