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Even at an early age, Cheryl Day was a passionate and practical advocate for agriculture. Check out her viewpoint on current agricultural topics.

Go Vegan Enters the Doors of My School District

Oct 22, 2010

I am surfing through the daily announcement at my children’s school’s website and see this announcement:

Students participating in the world go vegan be paying attention to the announcements on Mrs. XXX’s door
My first reaction as a Central Illinois beef producer: Pushing Veganism in a school funded by high percent of agriculture property taxes is outrageous. After my blood pressure resumes back to normal, my reasoning side kicks in.
I support the Freedom of Choices. I accept that there are individuals that choose not to eat meat but eat protein sources from alternative sources like the soybeans I produce. After all I do NOT place flyers up around the school saying EAT MEAT. 
But, the acceptance becomes a larger elephant in the room when the hidden agenda for WORLD GO VEGAN is not accurately explained to the students that are encouraged to make a drastic lifestyle change:
Direct quote on In Defense of Animals organization’s The World Go Vegan Week, October 24-31, website:
Why go Vegan?
“All around us today, the natural world upon which humans and animals depend is under attack. Animals in factory farms suffer terribly, and pollution, deforestation, global warming, and resource depletion are rapidly destroying the planet. But how can one person make any difference?
 
The answer is as close as your dinner plate. Thousands of people across the country are standing up for animals and the environment by adopting a vegan lifestyle.
 
Vegans take personal responsibility for making the world a better place by giving up meat, dairy products, eggs, and other animal-derived items.
 
That simple choice has powerful consequences. Veganism saves animals from the horrors of the slaughterhouse, reduces pollution from factory farms, and preserves soybeans and grain--which would otherwise be fed to animals being raised for food--for the millions of malnourished people in our hungry world.”
 
The above statement if filled with myths and misleading statements about animal agriculture. It extremely upsetting that I as beef producer is portrayed as evil person who steals, pollutes and assassinates. 
 
The Truth: As a beef producer, including my entire family, I am a passionate caretaker of my animals. Neglecting animals is not in my vocabulary. All my animals are provided with proper food and water daily. Each animal receives the proper disease prevention practices. I provide facilities for the animal that is safe for human and animal. I spend quality time inspecting each animal to properly identifying for sickness or injury and sacrifice other commitments when a sick animal needs my attention.
 
As a farmer, I strongly believe that good management of natural resources is not an choice but a must. As caretakers of livestock, I incorporate a variety of best management practices because I too care about clean, water, air, and protecting the soil. All natural resources are critical to health and well-being of the animals. 
 
On my operation, I have installed self-waters to provide clean, efficient water sources for my cattle. I utilize the best management practices on handling manure and managing my pastures. I do not let my cattle graze in natural streams or creeks. And, more importantly I administrate antibiotics only to treat sickness, after I exercise natural alternative measures, and always under the direction of a Veterinarian by the label.
 
The World Go Vegan Campaign repeatedly blames my animals as a contributing to global greenhouse gases. In Clearing the Air: Livestock’s Contribution to Climate Change, University of California, Davis Associate Professor Frank Mitloehner, an expert on livestock and greenhouse gases (GHG), and his colleagues demonstrate that many conclusions from an oft-quoted United Nations report are inaccurate.
 
“Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems,” says U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization official Dr. Henning Steinfeld, senior author of the report."
 
In a report published in the peer-reviewed journal Advances in Agronomy, University of California, Davis researchers take a critical look at the 2006 United Nations report Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options (LLS) and clarify its application to United States livestock production systems.
 
LLS comparison not apples to apples: LLS does not use equivalent comparison methods to evaluate the contributions of the global agriculture and transportation sectors. For example, when comparing GHG for livestock, LLS authors used a life cycle assessment but did not use an equally holistic analysis for predicting the impact of transportation.
·         Livestock's Long Shadow produced its numbers for the livestock sector by adding up emissions from farm to table, including the gases produced by growing animal feed; animals' digestive emissions; and processing meat and milk into foods. But its transportation analysis did not similarly add up emissions from well to wheel; instead, it considered only emissions from fossil fuels burned while driving.
 

 
 

 
More importantly the most alarming is the misconception presented in the World Go Vegan campaign on the nutritional value of meat. The Defense of Animals organization claims individuals eating plant-base diets are at lower risk for many disease including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and obesity. 
 
The urge to take this pledge comes at a crucial time in these teenagers' physical growth and establishing healthy eating habitats. Calorie for calorie, lean beef is one of the most flavorful and efficient ways to meet the daily value for 10 essential nutrients like iron, zinc and B vitamins and beef also provides 20 grams of protein per serving. As I beef producer and consumer of beef, I am committed to providing leaner beef. Today 29 cuts of beef meet government guidelines for lean.  
 
Based on the American Heart Association’s dietary fat recommendations, individuals consuming a 2,000 calorie diet are advised to consume between 56 g and 78 g of total fat and a SFA intake of 16 g or less.  A 3-ounce serving of lean beef contains levels of total fat and SFA well below these limits, and cholesterol levels below the recommendation of <300 mg/day.
 
The headlines are full of claims that red meat is bad for our health. Everything in excess can contribute to poor health, candy-Soda-alcohol-even aspirin. In fact the actual study and Headlines read “High Meat Consumption linked to Heightened Cancer Risk”. Sometimes we are so quick to react to the information that we do not research the facts. When I read headlines or facts on website I ask myself many questions:  Where did the facts come from-Looking out who funded a research product or who conduct the research project - how the data is analysis quickly reveal the facts. 
 
In fact “An independent scientific review of the existing epidemiological research found no conclusive evidence of a causal relationship between red meat and any of the cancers studied (breast cancer, prostate cancer, kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer and colorectal cancer). Furthermore, the findings and recent published studies are further evidence that the most important dietary advice people can follow to decrease cancer risk are the 2005 Dietary Guidelines, which recommend a nutrient-rich, balanced diet from all five food groups. A healthy diet as recommended by the Dietary Guidelines includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods within and among all food groups, such as: colorful fruits and vegetables; whole, fortified and enriched breads, pastas and cereals; low- and nonfat milk, cheese and yogurt; and lean meats, including lean beef, pork, poultry, eggs, fish and beans.”

Bottom-line, it took an announcement at my children’s school to wake me up. Propaganda can reach anyone anytime if the right celebrity, right picture, or the right slogan is used. Speaking the truth about animal agriculture is my job and I take that responsibility seriously.   Before you take the Vegan Pledge October 24-31, I dare all you teenagers and consumers to ask a farmer or rancher (or the teen who raises livestock at your school) why eating plant-base diet should be about personal taste selection not an HIDDEN AGENDA TO END THE RIGHT TO RAISE LIVESTOCK.

 
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COMMENTS (3 Comments)

jmb0116
Cheryl,
Wonderful article. I feel the same about what is happening in schools. Being an ag educator and advocate for production agriculture is just as important as the production itself. 4-H and FFA programs are the best tools we have to inform kids about what is really happening on the farm. Thanks again for your article. Great information.

11:54 PM Nov 3rd
 
DayAngus - Cerro Gordo, IL
Carl,
I completely agree that as a producer we need to increase the educational process including the schools. I was unaware of the DFF Exhibit and it sounds like a great project. Last week I did complete in elementary a presentation. I have serveral more schedules but apparently I need to do a better job to work with our FFA Chapter. It would be great way to get them to speak out.
1:16 PM Oct 24th
 

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