Radke Report: Kim Kardashian peddles fake meat; how ranchers should respond
We spent the long Memorial Day weekend moving cow-calf pairs to pasture. In perfect timing, our prayers were answered with a storm front that came in, leaving us soaked as we sorted in the mud. Nevertheless, we were thankful for the moisture knowing it might spare us from the drought conditions that are becoming an increasing concern in our area.
As we loaded cows and hauled them to their summer destinations, I couldn’t help but think about the folks who would love to see our way of life go extinct like the dinosaurs.
We have politicians who demand “Meatless Mondays” or “Meat-Out Days” in schools. There are countless media pundits who perpetuate the “cow farts” myth. We’ve seen a growing trend of animal rights activists breaking into barns or using drones to spy, harass and capture footage to be used in the next “gotcha” documentary. Add to the list environmental extremists who love to attack animal agriculture and make false claims about greenhouse gas emissions and livestock.
Then there are the fake meat investors. Three years ago, I shared the stage at a Cattlemen’s Association meeting with one of these investors, who had invested in dozens of different plant-based and lab-created brands. He had been invited to speak to share his insights on emerging trends in the meat space. Although it was incredibly interesting to hear his perspective, as a beef producer, his message was also chilling to the bone.
I asked him, “How can you make nutritional and environmental claims that suggest these alternatives are superior to animal agriculture? Where is your proof?”
His answer should jolt you awake and give us all pause for concern.
He said, “We know we can’t prove these marketing claims, but it’s business. We know what consumers want to hear, so that’s what we are going to sell to them. We are investors, and we want to make a solid return.”
I couldn’t believe his response. Mouth gaped open, I think I was in shock that he was so frank with all of us that day.
“It’s just business.”
Those words still haunt me because, in every speech I give, I encourage livestock producers that ultimately truth wins. I tell them consumers want our products because they know beef is nutritious, it tastes good, and farmers and ranchers genuinely care for our animals, too.
Yet, somehow along the way, that truth gets harder to find when the waters are muddied by these exterior forces who seek to strip producers off the land, remove meat, dairy and eggs off the dinner table and make fake meats the only choice for consumers.
If that sounds a little dramatic, take for example a new Beyond Meat commercial featuring Kim Kardashian.
In the advertisement, Kim tells her fans, “This plant-based meat is not only amazingly delicious, but it is also better for you and for the planet. It’s a simple change that makes a big difference.”
So this company can claim the victory without any proof? Meanwhile, beef producers are being called by every agricultural organization, association and land grant university to be more “sustainable,” to improve by every marker and to document and prove how “green” they are in order to stay in business.
It’s time we stop these games and celebrate what farmers and ranchers already do really well. Our environmental stewardship story is an incredible one, and the proof is in the rangelands that have been managed through generations, allowing us to produce more beef today per acre than in year’s past.
Our real task isn’t to do more, to prove more and to be more. No, our true mission should be holding our ground and bringing consumers on our team. They love beef and will support businesses who provide a superior product for them to enjoy without the fear and guilt. It’s our job to deliver exactly that, with truth, positivity, kindness and an amazing story on our side.