Environment Lethbridge is calling on Albertans to take part in a Green Challenge, but a call to eat less meat appears to have backfired.
The organization’s challenge includes five actions over the course of 30 days — unplugging electronics, refraining from idling vehicles, using reusable shopping bags, reducing shower time, and going meatless for one day each week — in hopes of reducing greenhouse gases, which is the one Doug Munton, the owner of Benchmark Angus, takes exception to.
“It’s a slap in the face to our farmers and ranchers in the area,” he said.
“I’m not saying be blind to the issue, but let’s not crucify people that are trying to make an honest living in an honest way. They are the best stewards of the land.”
Last week, a tweet supporting the challenge, including the eat less meat action, appeared on Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips’ Twitter account. Phillips later called the tweet “regrettable” and said a staffer posted it.
Her comments came hours after UCP leader Jason Kenny posted a tweet asking why the environment minister was telling Albertans to eat less meat, and that he won’t be taking the NDP’s advice.
Even after the social media controversy, Environment Lethbridge stands by its call to eat less meat.
“We don’t have a position either way on the agriculture industry,” Environment Lethbridge executive director Kathleen Sheppard said.
“We understand that the agriculture industry is an important part of our local economy and our provincial economy and we’re fully in favour of that. We’re just looking at some different ways that individuals can voluntarily take action on the environment.”
The Alberta Beef Producers dismiss Environment Lethbridge’s claim that eating less meat will have a big impact on the environment.
“It’s disappointing to see an organization such as Environment Lethbridge, with clearly good intentions, to make the misinformed suggestion that going meatless for one day a week will reduce people’s environmental impact substantially,” Rich Smith, the organizations executive director, said.
The green challenge is to begin Jan. 15 and go until Feb. 15.