Vegetarian: To Be Or Not Trent, “You will never convince a vegetarian that the world needs to eat mass produced meat to survive, or that there is better living through chemistry for our produce. It should be picked as God intended ripe and ready to eat full of what nature intended…life. That is the correspondence between myself and a very concerned mother of two children that I met at the Health and Harmony Festival in Santa Rosa, CA last week. Controversy, everything in the world seems as though it must be drawn on one side of the white line or another. Why? I attend the Health and Harmony Festival because it was the last public speaking appearance for Robert F, Kennedy Jr. Of course par for the dog and pony show we have begun to have in the middle of his speech he pulls me up on stage and introduces me to this group of modern day hippies. He refers to me as the black hat guy representing the evils of modern food production. This will kind of introduction in this crowd will certainly stimulate conversion from people that no one would accuse me of preaching to the choir. After which I spent the next two hours just walking around the festival, being approached by one person after another person which 20 questions. Few of which attacked me upon sight (verbally) but most were curious as to the real story. The real story is if we are going to continue to supply food to the United States consumer we as producers better take a minute and listen to what they are saying. I will say it again; we live in United States of America if you want to be a vegetarian great that is your rights. As a producer of meat products I want to know why you are a vegetarian. That was the reason I walk through this crowd to get a better understanding of what is an ever-changing American customer. Here is what I found, people told me they were vegetarians because they oppose building livestock farmers by cutting down tropical rain forest in this country. Another walked up to me and informed he was 75% vegetarian because he did not like all the processing that meat went through from the farm to his plate, of the 25% time he eats meats he told me it was chicken sausages. (No processing there) Of course I had the few who told me they quite eating meat when they realized it came from animals. But overwhelming the two reasons these people quit eating meat was the environmental degradation and the use of chemicals. How…..how on earth does any become convinced that 40 years ago when the manure management plan was implemented every time it rained. The chemical issue they truly believe our livestock production is totally dependent upon a constant stream of antibiotics and hormones. Listen, we must be better listeners of our customers. Only that we can do a better job of telling them what is really happening on our farms. I flew home from San Francisco knowing that it was important for me to spend more time in crowds like that all around this country. Don’t get me wrong, you will experience an emotional roller coaster unlike you have been on. I assure you moments when will come when you doubt yourself and what you are doing, but you must walk through this door and address a whole new classroom. Well you don’t need to if you are content with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., PETA and the other control freaks of the world doing it. Pamela, “I do not want to convince you to not to be a vegetarian, but rather make sure you are not one because of the propaganda of some special interest group solicting millions of dollars telling lies about my industry” Vegetarian – “To be or not to be” What motivates consumers to choose a vegetarian lifestyle? The answer is as diverse as the country we live in but it seems to be vastly due to misinformation. I attended a Health and Harmony Festival in Santa Rosa, CA. This liberal celebration of fruits and nuts provided many opportunities to question a group of mostly vegetarians about why they chose not to eat meat. Their responses were both entertaining and troubling. Some told me they were vegetarians because they opposed cutting down tropical rain forests in our country to build livestock farms. One informed he was 75% vegetarian because he did not like the processing that meat went through between the farm and his plate. When he does eat meat, he chooses chicken sausages. A few people quit eating meat when they realized it came from animals. Overwhelming, the two reasons people quit eating meat were because of environmental degradation and the use of chemicals. They have no awareness of the strides we have made in developing and implementing environmental management plans and they truly believe meat production is totally dependent upon a constant stream of antibiotics and hormones. Because we live in the United States of America, consumers have the right to choose a vegetarian diet. However, as a producer of meat products, I feel that it is important for consumers to base their decision on information. It is our responsibility to share the food production story with the American public so that they can make decisions based on truth and not the propaganda perpetuated by radical anti-meat activist groups who are utilizing scare tactics to chase our industry to foreign shores. What consumers want is safe, healthy food. We can meet this need. In addition, we must also provide adequate information to allow for sound dietary choices.
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