In case you missed it, Monday is “Colorado Livestock Proud Day” in Colorado.
Democratic Gov. Jared Polis apparently wants to applaud his state’s cattle ranchers. But he may also be trying to win back their trust after a shaky go-vegan pitch last week.
The Washington Times noted on Sunday that Polis had declared Saturday “MeatOut Day,” which urged Coloradoans to skip meat, allegedly as a way to eat healthier.
The event isn’t new. The Times notes that it first emerged in 1985 when the Farm Animal Rights Movement used a meatless March 20 to champion “an ethical vegan lifestyle and vegan diet.”
But relative to other Colorado governors, Polis’s support for MeatOut Day raises greater suspicion among ranchers in a state that, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has the 10th largest cattle population in America. The Times noted that agriculture is Colorado’s second-biggest industry, with 60 percent of that based on livestock.
According to the Times, Polis two years ago called on the state agriculture department to promote crops that support plant-based meat substitutes and did so by munching on a soy-based Burger King Impossible Whopper.
Moreover, Polis, who is gay, is married to a “longtime vegan and animal-rights advocate,” the Times pointed out.
Colorado’s first gentleman, Marlon Reis, said in a 2019 interview that he believed his role was to advocate “for the animals we keep as pets; those with whom we share the planet; and, particularly, those we raise for food.” Reis added that he seeks to stop “the exploitation of animals for food,” according to the Times.
But Colorado’s meat lovers were having none of it on MeatOut Day.
They instead turned out in droves to support the countercultural “Meat In Day,” sponsored by the Colorado Cattleman’s Association.
The Times reported that at least 26 of the state’s 64 counties countered MeatOut Day with petitions supporting the cattlemen’s drive. And more than 100 restaurants and other vendors offered sales and promotions of meat products.
Additionally, Meat In Day also featured fundraisers to benefit groups like the Future Farmers of America, 4-H clubs, and food banks. A T-shirt vendor offered shirts that declared, “The West Wasn’t Won on Salads.”
Meanwhile, Republican governors of neighboring states also took shots at Polis.
In Wyoming, Gov. Mark Gordon proclaimed March 20 as “Hearty Meat Day” in his state. He tweeted, “I stand by our ranchers and farmers, who feed the world and help manage our natural resources. I also invite @GovofCO and Colorado citizens to join us in this celebration.”
In Nebraska, Gov. Pete Ricketts declared March 20 “Meat on the Menu Day.” He told Fox News that it’s “important to push back against the anti-science, anti-agricultural radical activists like PETA that are pushing this meat-out agenda.” Ricketts added, “Meat is part of a healthy diet. It’s part of our food security here. And of course here in Nebraska, the livestock industry is our number-one industry, and so it would really devastate our way of life here.”
Polis seemed to try to make light of the blowback.
According to the Times, his office told local media that Polis was “thrilled that he has helped start a grassroots movement of support for cattlemen and the beef industry,” and that the governor was “enthusiastic about how his proclamation is drawing needed attention and support for our ranchers and agriculture economy.”
State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, a Republican, was not amused and denounced how Polis handled his non-meat promotion, according to the Times.
“He could have done that many different ways: encourage you to eat more vegetables, fruit, nobody’s going to have an issue with that,” Sonnenberg told one interviewer. “But obviously this governor chose to stick his finger in the eye of agriculture and have a meat-out day. And interestingly enough, agriculture and all of rural Colorado has woken up.”
“Quite frankly, his actions over the last two years, his systematic attacks toward agriculture, his appointments to boards and commissions … have not been helpful to agriculture, have not been helpful to rural Colorado,” Sonnenberg continued.
“We have a governor who obviously has given Colorado a national reputation that agriculture isn’t welcome here.”