THE War on Meat is more than an ephemeral obsession amongst privileged, virtue-signalling, urban vegans. It’s a concerted attempt to dictate what we eat.

Last week the Daily Mail and Fox News claimed that Joe Biden intends to limit US beef consumption to meet his Green New Deal targets. Reports said that Americans would have to "cut 90% of red meat out of their diet”.

The US Agriculture Department promptly dismissed the reports. “This is a fabrication. There is no such effort or policy that exists. It’s not a part of the climate plan nor the emissions targets. It is not real.”

So that’s clear, isn’t it? More fake news. Except that some ‘conspiracy theories’ have a habit of coming true.

In fact, a concerted global campaign is indeed underway to purge red meat from our diets, ushered in by ultra-processed food corporations, and the technocrats in influential bodies, notably the World Economic Forum and the World Resources Institute.

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These powerful interests see food as software and are busy reprogramming what’s on our plates. Everything nature can do, man can do so much better, and more profitably, or so they think.

Pat Brown, CEO of Impossible Foods, the man who brought you the fake meat burger that bleeds, is on a mission to remove animals from the food system by 2035. “Let's get rid of friggin' cows”, he says. It’s all part of 'building back better', we’re told, a lifestyle shift endorsed by Brand Greta that ticks your personal climate activism box.

NGOs are the technocrats’ puppets. Greenpeace has told Tesco to halve its meat sales by 2025. No offence to my erstwhile comrades in Greenpeace but none of these laptop activists has any track record in feeding us. Our farmers do.

Yet farmers are on the back foot. Welsh farmer Gareth Wyn Jones recently took the BBC to task for encouraging children to go meat-free in order ‘to save the planet’.

Blue Peter was offering green badges – similar to the traditional blue ones – for youngsters who thus demonstrated they were Climate Heroes. The BBC backed down. Anti-farmer proselytising of young minds isn’t a good look for the broadcaster that brings you Countryfile.

HeraldScotland: Mince and tattiesMince and tatties

This agenda to scrape meat off our plate thrives on regular guilt-tripping columns in newspapers and online. The Guardian has openly taken $1.8M to date from the Open Philanthropy Project, a billionaire-owned organisation that supports animal rights groups, to fund its Animals Farmed series. It churns out regular articles that portray contemporary animal agriculture as mostly inhumane and harmful to humans and the environment, whilst advocating the inevitability of a vegan and plant-based food shift.

This propaganda steadfastly refuses to acknowledge any substantive difference between the worst excesses of intensive animal systems and the thoroughly ecological, grass-based, extensive beef and lamb production that characterises countries like Scotland.

Beef and lamb are among the most local, sustainable, and healthy foods we can eat here. No wonder Greenpeace et al hate focusing on sheep on Scottish hills or cattle in our glens. They’ve got stranded in the Brazilian rainforest with rabid animal rights groups like Peta for company.

But surely amongst the majority red meat is here to stay because people love eating it and understand its nutritional value?

Beef mince and tatties is, after all, Scotland’s national dish.There is some evidence to support that comforting notion. Red meat sales grew by 15% in 2020. In the first three months of this year, volumes rose again by 18%, despite the annual Veganuary effort.

But the anti-red meat creep is insidious. Who wants their diet overtly dictated? So the strategy is to sneak it in by way of top-down guidelines and opaque initiatives from heavily acronym-ed official bodies you’ve never heard of, introduced while you were sleeping, and now irreversible.

Take Meatless Monday. You might say it’s churlish to object. I mean, even omnivores don’t need to eat meat everyday. But this mantra is the thin end of a wedge. Uncontested, it drops the fallacious ‘red meat is bad for you and the planet’ anchor.

Last year, two mothers, one a Yorkshire shepherd, the other a sheepdog trainer in Wales, started local rebellions against their councils’ Meatless Monday school lunch diktats. A similar battle escalated in France in February when the Green Party mayor of Lyon Gregory Doucet tried to remove meat from school lunches in the city renowned for its rich heritage of meats, such as rosette de Lyon saucisson, and the tripe sausage known as andouillette. Even a Salade Lyonnaise contains bacon lardons.

The French government accused Doucet of risking children's health. "Let's just give them what they need to grow well. Meat is part of it," wrote Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie. He is absolutely right. A child who eats no meat will, unless given a daily supplement, become deficient in vitamin B12. The consequences are crippling.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said it was an "unacceptable insult" to French farmers and butchers, and went further. "We can see that the moralising and elitist policy of the Greens excludes the popular classes. Many children often only get to eat meat at the school canteen.”

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And here is a crucial point about the whole anti-meat circus. Its ringmasters belong to white elites. They feel entitled to impose a neo-colonial, one-size-fits-all food prescription, one which ignores all classes, cultures and ethnicities.

Their planetary Eat Less Meat vision is crassly insensitive to the fact that many of the world’s citizens suffer disease and developmental problems because they don’t get enough of the essential nutrients that only meat and other animal foods provide.

A meat tax has been mooted in the UK, but come to naught – so far. As yet, omnivores are “nudged” from on high. But the World Resources Institute has devised measures that do involve varying degrees of compulsion: taxation; revised nutritional labelling and dietary guidelines, interference at retail level; banning meat from public menus.

One Oxford professor recently suggested, in all seriousness, that “deliberately tainting meat blue [with colouring] offers an intriguing opportunity to nudge consumers toward selecting a healthier and more sustainable diet.”

We can laugh, but we should never be blasé. We can’t take our mince for granted.

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