At the 77th Golden Globes Awards last week, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association publicized their commitment to combating climate change and “saving the world” by way of an anti-meat crusade. For the first time in the award show’s history, the HFPA offered a menu that completely snubbed real meat. The association’s president said in a statement that the plant-based menu raises awareness around “small changes that have a greater impact.”
The claim promotes a meatless diet as a north star for a world-conscious, sustainable, and morally noble lifestyle. But stunts like this are not only hypocritical, they are overly simplistic and lead people further away from real practices that could help reduce carbon emissions.
America’s ranchers and producers have been a popular target for blame from climate change activists. A number of these attacks stem from the false assertion that livestock is the largest source of greenhouse gases.
However, the Environmental Protection Agency states that all of U.S. agriculture contributes to a mere nine percent of greenhouse gas emissions, with animal agriculture less than half of this amount at below four percent. This pales in comparison to transportation emissions, which accounts for 28 percent.
That’s why many people find it increasingly difficult to take seriously the climate-friendly message of abstaining from meat for one meal, while attendees arrived at the Golden Globes in an armada of private planes and limousines. And when more than 10,000 flowers flown into California from Ecuador and Italy decorated the ballroom tables.
Millions of people around the world rely on meat as source of rich nutrients that simply cannot be replaced. Unlike many plant-based products, meat does not contain the highly processed ingredients to imitate beef’s delicious taste. Beef contains only one ingredient and requires a rigorous safety inspection before reaching the market. I recently introduced the Real MEAT Act which would address the growing issue of deceptive labeling of plant-based meat alternatives and help ensure consumers know what they are purchasing at the grocery store.
And there’s even more evidence that the potential impact of “going vegan” would be minimal at best. According to Dr. Frank Mitloehner, a professor at University of California-Davis, even if Americans followed Hollywood’s lead and dropped their appetite for meat, the total amount of our nation’s GHG emissions would reduce by just 2.6 percent, while robbing consumers of essential nutrients.
A much more effective way to demonstrate a commitment to reducing our carbon footprint would revolve around the event’s most discussed topic: the fashion. When these extravagant gowns are only worn once, valuable resources are wasted and the environment pays the price. CBS News reported earlier this year that the Ellen MacArthur Foundation found the “total greenhouse gas emissions related to textiles production are equal to 1.2 billion tons annually – more than those of all international flights and maritime shipping trips combined.”
Make no mistake: climate change is a real and serious issue. It deserves the kind of thoughtful, bipartisan solutions that agriculture producers are familiar with.
Advances in technology have produced significant improvements to crop yields, irrigation techniques, and fertilizer management. Innovators in Nebraska have developed a tool that connects to center pivot irrigation systems and remotely controls water output based on the amount needed for a particular field. It’s estimated that since this tool was launched, it has saved over 21 billion gallons of water, over 34 million kilowatt hours of energy, and over 57 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions around the globe.
Farmers in Nebraska, who depend on a healthy environment to be successful, are already good stewards of our land, air, and water and continually are improving their practices.
I respect the decision of those who personally choose to adhere to a vegan diet, but Hollywood Hypocrites need to stop using America’s farmers and ag producers as a scapegoat.
Deb Fischer is a United States Senator from Nebraska and member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.