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Commentary: Make Meat Cool Again

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By Gary Truitt

The MO of entertainment award programs is to generate controversy, which is a deliberate approach aimed at raising public interest in events that might otherwise be rather obscure.  These controversies are often political attacks, or outrageous clothing, or songs, or dance routines that stretch the boundaries of morals and good taste. For the Golden Globes this year, it was meat.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which hosts the annual event, made a big show out of serving a vegan meal to the crowd, a move organizers said was meant to “send a signal” about the impact of animal products on climate change. Vegan proponents have, in the past, focused on health effects and animal cruelty issues to justify their choice not to eat meat. Now, with climate being the big issue, they have switched their focus.  This is not a stronger argument since the science behind the environmental impact of animal production is as flimsy and inconclusive as the dietary and animal welfare arguments. But the climate issue is trendy and is catching on in Tinsel Town, as the Critics’ Choice Awards has also announced it will be serving plant-based foods at its gala.

The many vegan activists in the crowd were beside themselves with joy. Yet, all arrived at the event in big, gas guzzling limos that pumped more toxic gas into the environment than any cow flatulence would have done.  The fact that no non-vegan alternatives were offered is an example of the intolerance for which Hollywood is known.

Research shows that 90% of American consumers are meat eaters. So why then are veganism and plant-based “meat” so trendy?  When did eating meat stop being cool? One of my favorite television programs is Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. This series on the Food Network travels the country profiling small, local, eating establishments that all specialize in serving meat. They go into the kitchens and show gobs of butter, spices, cheese, and a host of other ingredients being combined with all kinds of meat to create some amazing dishes that are in high demand in the local area.  This is real food being eaten by real people.

The celebrities we like to idolize do not eat in these places. Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais chided his fellow stars telling them, “You don’t live in the real world.”  If they did, they might begin to understand that most people in the U.S. and around the world like and want to consume animal protein.  If they would bother to look into how meat ends up on their plates, they would be amazed. The amount of science, technology, hard work, and incredible talent it takes to put a perfectly cooked steak, lamb chop, or chicken breast on their dinner plate or some bacon and eggs on their breakfast tray is incredible. Science, technology, hard work, and talent are not things you hear celebrities talking about these days, with the notable exception of Mike Rowe and Dave Ramsey. Meanwhile, in the real world, the people who watch the television shows and go to the movies, also get up every morning and go do hard work, many raising, processing, delivering, and cooking animal-based meat.

There was a time when the cowboy, the farmer, and the chef were revered in our society for their hard work, skill, and talent. Sadly, those days are gone. The Golden Globe awards celebrate excellence in the industry of make believe. When we start to honor excellence by the men and women who make the real world go round as much as we do those who make comic book characters come to life on the big screen, then eating meat will be cool again.