meat grocery
Effective immediately, I have vowed to double my beef consumption and I'm doing it to save the planet.

It seems curious timing, doesn't it, that the week that the British medical journal The Lancet came out with the recommendation to reduce our beef consumption by 90 per cent, that the new Canada Food Guide would mirror the recommendations by saying we need to reduce our consumption of red meat and sugar. Really? Are we to believe that eating meat is as bad for you as eating Halloween candy?

Having watched the environmental movement for a long time, I don't believe in coincidences. Researcher Vivian Krause discovered a co-ordinated attack on our farmed fish industry funded by U.S. interests funnelling money to Canadian environmental groups. She then exposed a co-ordinated attack on our Alberta oil industry funded by U.S. foundations funnelling money to Canadian environmental groups. I want to know who is funding this attack on our beef industry. Whoever it is, the industry needs to fight back.

Not only do I think these "expert" recommendations are dangerous to our health, I also think the loss of our cattle industry would be devastating to our environment.

First, I have a vegan brother so I know that getting the full complement of amino acids from plant proteins takes some work. There are nine amino acids that the body can't produce itself. To be considered a complete protein, the food has to have all of them. Meat, eggs and dairy are all complete proteins. My brother eats a lot of hemp seeds, quinoa and soy which are also complete proteins. Beans and peas aren't; they have to be combined with rice to get all you need. If people simply reduce their consumption of meat, without knowing how to get enough whole plant proteins, they aren't going to be healthier. They are going to get sick.

Second, I also happened to be at a conference of grassland management experts for two days this week, moderating the annual conference of the Association of Alberta Agricultural Fieldmen. These are the folks who ensure Alberta remains rat free and noxious weed free. They know more than anyone about managing rangelands for biodiversity, wetlands and soil health.

One of the experts who spoke at the AAAF conference was Yamily Zavala, who is a crop and soil nutrient management expert with the Chinook Applied Research Association.

Her research has found a symbiotic relationship between planting a complementary variety of plant species, bacteria and fungi, which work together to sequester carbon in the soil through a number of complex biological and chemical processes. New research from the University of California also recently concluded that grasslands are an even better and more resilient carbon storage option than trees.

Zavala told the conference her project doesn't receive government funding. I suppose if she were working on computer models predicting catastrophe rather than doing applied research on carbon sequestration, it would probably be a different story.

AAAF passed a resolution to request that Alberta Agriculture and Forestry develop a process to allow farmers and landowners to access carbon credits for land used for permanent pasture, perennial forage or land that is left forested. They presented research that these lands can sequester as much as nine tonnes of carbon per acre. If producers were paid the going rate of $30 a tonne for their sequestration efforts, that would be $270 an acre. On a 1,000-acre ranch, that would amount to $270,000.

If our food producers are capturing and permanently storing this much carbon, then they darn well should be getting paid for it.

I shudder to think what would happen if, at the next UN meeting in Paris or Marrakech or Katowice, our federal government bends to the will of environmental zealots and signs a new protocol to reduce our cattle herds to 90 per cent below 2005 levels by 2050.

Imagine what would happen if we did that. What would become of those carefully managed grasslands? They would very quickly become an overgrown fire hazard, and we'd end up with out-of-control grassland fires burning all over the prairies, releasing carbon dioxide as they incinerated.

Let's just stop this insanity right now. If you care about your health and the planet, you should eat more beef.

Danielle Smith can be reached at