Commentary: Why I say, 'Be neat, eat meat'


By Annabel Morgan, Global Farmer Network

via Capital Press - Oct 7, 2019


"Hey, be neat, no meat," said television talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres in a short video she posted to social media on Sept. 17.


"It's a great idea for the planet. It's a great idea for your health. It's a great idea for the animal's health," she said. On Instagram, people have watched the video almost 5 million times.


I like Ellen a lot.


I like her humor. I like her compassion. And I like her show, even though I don't get to see it very often.


But I don't like what she said about meat and I replied to her comments in my own short video. To my surprise, my remarks got some attention. If I had known that this was going to happen, I would have done a better job of brushing my hair!


Yet I wanted to get across my main message. It's OK to eat meat. You don't need to feel guilty about it.


If you want to be a vegetarian, that's fine by me. If you want to go even further and be a vegan, then I say: OK and good luck. Ellen ate a vegan diet for years, though now she apparently eats fish and eggs as well.


Food is a personal choice and I don't want to change anyone's preferences. I'm glad that our diverse food industry can satisfy so many different needs and desires.


But nobody should quit eating meat for the reasons Ellen listed. The production of meat doesn't hurt the environment, the consumption of it is good for your health, and nobody cares more about the welfare of animals than the ranchers and farmers who tend to them every day.


I'm part of a ranch family in Montana. On my husband's side, we go back five generations. We run a commercial beef operation that features high alpine grazing and a permanent mother herd, which means that some of our cows are with us for 15 years. We grow native grasses for food and use bulls for breeding.


Ranchers like me are often criticized for working with livestock because our animals emit greenhouses gases and contribute to climate change. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, however, the vast majority of greenhouses gases come from transportation (29%), electricity (28%), and industry (22%). All of agriculture accounts for only 9% and livestock are just a fraction of this amount.


So we're hardly a major problem. Electricity is a bigger threat, but Ellen can't criticize its overuse because without electricity, nobody could watch her on television.


Meat is also an excellent source of protein and part of a healthy diet. It provides a good balance with vegetables, fruit, and other types of food. It's nutritious and delicious.


What bothers me most about Ellen's anti-meat manifesto, however, is what she says about animals and the casual implication that we ranchers treat our livestock with cruelty.


Nothing could be further from the truth...