Protest Beef Subsidies
Marcus Armand, Milwaukee
Earlier this week, more than a hundred thousand South Koreans demonstrated
against newly elected president Lee Myung-bak, as his entire cabinet offered to
resign. At the root of this massive protest was not a declaration of war against
North Korea, a boycott of the Chinese summer Olympics, or even escalating oil
prices. It was a treaty allowing U.S. beef imports.
Beef production accounts for more greenhouse gas emissions than automobiles. Its insatiable demand for feed grains has raised world food prices to levels beyond the reach of the world's hungry and the relief agencies that support them. Creation of beef pastures is the key cause of worldwide deforestation, including the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. A beef-based diet requires more than 20 times as much land and water as a plant-based diet with equivalent amounts of calories and protein.
Nutritionally, beef offers protein, iron, and some B vitamins, but no fiber, carbohydrates, nor most vitamins and minerals. On the other hand, it is replete with saturated fat, cholesterol, pesticides, and pathogens, including occasionally, the prions of "Mad Cow" disease.
We should have a hundred thousand demonstrators marching on Washington to protest taxpayer subsidies to the U.S. beef industry. In the meantime, each one of us can demonstrate our own outrage with beef production on our next trip to the supermarket by selecting from the rich variety of soy-and-plant-based meat alternatives in the frozen foods and produce sections.