Carnivorous Argentines Told to Forgo Beef as Climate Fears Grow

Some of the planet’s most voracious beef eaters are being told to cut back to help the environment.

The government in Argentina, a ranching heartland that’s traditionally vied with neighboring Uruguay as the world’s red-meat capital, wants people to stop feasting on beef for one day a week as it tries to achieve climate goals.

The Environment Ministry launched the “Green Mondays” campaign this week to cut the amount of greenhouse gases produced by cattle ranching, the biggest contributor to Argentine emissions with a 22% share. The program encourages people to substitute all types of meat with plant-based proteins.

Carnivorous Argentines Told to Forgo Beef as Climate Fears Grow

Of course, meatless Mondays aren’t new -- the first global effort began in 2003 -- but their arrival in Argentina shows just how far the climate push has come: In a different era, the idea would have been anathema in a country where barbecued short ribs are viewed as a birthright.

Ranchers are furious. Beef “is a badge of national identity and a product that represents us in the world like no other,” the Argentine Rural Society said in a statement opposing the initiative.

In fact, Argentines today are not quite the storied carnivores for which they’ve been so famous in the past.

A prolonged economic slump means annual per capita beef consumption has fallen to 49 kilograms (108 pounds), the first time it’s edged below 50 in data going back almost two decades, and far less than the 2009 peak of 70 kilos, according to beef industry group Ciccra. U.S. consumption still pales in comparison. The average American in 2018 ate 25 kilos.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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