The tweet advised consumers to cut down on meat by exploring vegetarian recipes and participating in meat-free Mondays. It also highlighted that 10% of purchased meat goes to waste. Accompanying the message was a meme of Samantha Jones from the television show Sex and the City, depicted with a smile and the caption “the planet when you reduce your red meat intake.”
“It reeks of desperation from a protectionist industry, which is trying to cling onto its previously unassailable position in the food system”
According to reports, the Irish Farmers’ Association said the tweet caused anger among farmers and asked for its immediate removal, pressuring the EPA to discuss the rationale behind its tweet and how it aligns with the EPA’s responsibilities.
Dermot Kelleher, the president of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA), called on the EPA to clarify its involvement in what he called “overtly political campaigns,” adding that its organization was shocked to see an anti-meat crusade on the EPA’s social media, reports The Journal.
A legitimate tweet
After removing the post, the EPA reportedly released a statement saying it regularly tweets and posts advice on activities that benefit or impact the environment across its social media platforms, including food and food waste. However, the EPA acknowledged that its recent tweet was open to interpretation and may have caused confusion, deciding to remove it to avoid unnecessary attention. The group added that it would further engage in discussions with agricultural groups to “bring clarity for all.”
Dr. Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs for Humane Society International and Europe, comments: “It is shameful that a national environmental protection agency has effectively been bullied into deleting a perfectly legitimate message encouraging people to simply try meat-free Mondays to achieve a more sustainable, healthier diet. This is yet another example of the almighty animal agriculture industry riding roughshod over anyone who has the temerity to repeat scientific advice on the necessity of shifting to more plant-based diets.”
A protectionist industry
According to a PwC study, about 80% of all agricultural land is used directly or indirectly for meat production, including dairy activities subsidized by governments worldwide. However, only 20% is farmed for vegetables, cereals, fruits, and other plants, for example, tobacco. Slashing meat consumption is crucial for minimizing the impacts of animal agriculture on land, air, water, and GHG emissions.
“It reeks of desperation from a protectionist industry, which is trying to cling onto its previously unassailable position in the food system as increasingly more people and institutions acknowledge the inconvenient truth that we must reduce our consumption of meat and other animal products for the sake of both the environment and our own health,” Swabe continues.