Heartland Republicans Unite to Defend Meat Against Liberal Attack

GOP rallies around meat industry in response to attack by Colorado's Jared Polis

Steaks / Getty Images
March 19, 2021

The red meat wars have hit America.

Republican governors representing heartland states are uniting in support of the cattle industry in response to calls from Jared Polis, the Democratic governor of Colorado, to move his state away from eating meat. The herd of Republican governors of Nebraska, Iowa, Wyoming, and Montana has taken issue with Polis's call for Saturday, March 20, to be observed as "MeatOut Day," during which residents are asked to replace meat with a plant-based alternative.

All four Republican governors issued proclamations in response, declaring upcoming meat days and even meat months as a show of solidarity with America's ranchers. Nebraska governor Pete Ricketts declared March 20 to be Meat on the Menu Day, explicitly urging Nebraskans to "purchase and eat beef, pork, chicken, lamb, or another kind of meat."

In Montana, Governor Greg Gianforte declared Saturday Montana Meat Day but also added that "every day is meat day in Montana." In Wyoming, Governor Mark Gordon, himself a rancher, said his state will celebrate Saturday as Hearty Meat Day.

Not to be outdone, Iowa's Kim Reynolds took things up a notch, proclaiming the entire month of April as Meat on the Table Month.

Polis—a meat eater himself—was heralded by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for staking out an anti-meat position. The radical animal rights group's president, Ingrid Newkirk, lauded Polis for "provok[ing] a nationwide discussion" about vegan eating, even as over two dozen Colorado counties countered his proclamation with "MeatIn" days scheduled to coincide with MeatOut day.

In addition to celebrating Polis, PETA is using its resources to attack governors like Ricketts. PETA told the Washington Free Beacon it will be erecting a billboard on the Colorado-Nebraska border telling drivers they are "Entering Nebraska, Home of Meathead Governor Ricketts!"

Asked by the Free Beacon if he views "meathead" as an insult, Ricketts said, "No, not really."

Ricketts said the pro-meat day is about educating people about the importance of agricultural industry.

"Meat on the Menu Day is to educate people about where their food comes from," Ricketts told the Free Beacon. He added that Polis's planned day without meat is a "direct assault" on Nebraska's way of life and "undermines food security."

Nebraska politicians are celebrating his stand on the issue. Rep. Don Bacon (R.), whose district includes the headquarters of Omaha Steaks, told the Free Beacon that Ricketts has his full support in his fight against Colorado's assault on meat.

"This Bacon has absolutely zero beef with Governor Ricketts's meat proclamation," Bacon said. "Colorado going meatless is full of baloney."

Wyoming senator Cynthia Lummis (R.), a rancher, celebrated the governors' meat embrace, telling the Free Beacon she has "a particular appreciation for beef, lamb, bison, yak, and other 'hearty meats.'"

"I'm proud to support the farmers, ranchers, and producers whose hard work drives Wyoming's economy and keeps steak on our tables," Lummis said.

PETA, however, predicts that vegans will ultimately get the last laugh.

"We wouldn't be surprised at all if even cattle-backed states like these will have vegan governors in a few years," a spokesman told the Free Beacon.