After the Colorado governor called upon citizens to try avoiding meat for a day, the governor of neighbouring Nebraska signed a declaration on Monday for a day where meat consumption would be actively encouraged.
“Meat on the Menu Day” was unveiled by governor Pete Ricketts at an event attended by a number of representatives from the meat, agricultural and restaurant industries.
It comes after Colorado’s governor Jared Polis announced late last month that 20 March would be celebrated as “MeatOut Day”, a move that Mr Ricketts referred to as an “attack on our way of life”.
Monday’s news conference was held at an Omaha meat shop, where politicians hailed meat as Nebraska’s largest industry. According to Steve Wellman, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director who was present during the conference, meat products alone generate about $12bn (£8.6bn) each year in revenues for the state.
“It is a direct attack on our way of life here in Nebraska,” Mr Ricketts said, adding that meat is a nutritious, protein-rich food source.
Mr Wellman said agriculture as a whole supports one in every four jobs in the state and generates $21bn (£15bn) annually. “When agriculture does well, Nebraska does well. Agriculture is the heart and soul of Nebraska,” he said.
Colorado’s MeatOut Day is a campaign that was initially started in 1985 by the Farm Animal Rights Movement to encourage non-vegetarians to consider eating a plant-based diet. On their website, they claim that “since 1985 MeatOut has grown into the world’s largest annual grassroots educational campaign dedicated to removing meat, and more, from our plates.”
Nebraska, meanwhile, celebrates May as “Beef Month” and issues “Beef State” licence plates to motorists.
In addition to several campaigns, the Farm Animal Rights Movement also encourages posting MeatOut memes on social media using tags like#MeatOut and #MeatOut2021.
Colorado will celebrate 20 March as MeatOut Day, while Nebraska will mark the same day with Meat on the Menu.
Mr Ricketts said Nebraska hadn’t seen calls for its own MeatOut Day but he didn’t want to risk animal rights activists “gaining any traction” in the state. He told reporters: “If you were to get rid of beef in our country, you would be undermining our food security, an important part of a healthy diet, and also destroying an industry here in our state that’s very important.”
In a tweet, Mr Ricketts said, “You simply cannot beat a juicy burger made from ground sirloin or a thick, bone-in ribeye sizzling on the grill. Mark your calendars: March 20th is Meat on the Menu Day!”
This isn’t the first time Nebraska has had beef with Colorado. Mr Ricketts also criticised Colorado’s decision to legalise recreational cannabis, saying at the time: “If you legalise marijuana, you’re gonna kill your kids.”