As far back as 1990 Argentina has been in the top two countries for the highest consumption of meat per person`. Just last year Argentinians consumed an average of 87.5kg of meat, including beef, veal, sheep, pork and poultry. Nearly half the meat consumed was beef and veal. So, when the President of Argentina Mauricio Macri, announced vegans Mondays not everyone was best pleased.
President Macri has declared that at the official presidential residence The Casa Rosada, only vegan food will be served to the president and all 554 employees on a Monday. Given the country’s longstanding love of meat this has come as a bit of a surprise, but it is exactly their love of meat that has caused Macri to come to this decision.
Argentinians are facing a major health crisis due to the foods that they eat and the way in which the foods that they produce are distributed. A lot of the meals they consume are high in processed fats and sugar which isn’t good for the waistline or the heart. It’s well documented that animal products are linked to a myriad of different health problems and red meat, like beef, is even classed as a carcinogen.
However, Argentina’s meat industry has not taken too kindly to the announcement. When Chief Administrator of the Presidential Office, Fernando de Andreis was spoken to about Macri’s decision, he spoke about the health of Argentinian citizens and explicitly linked animal agriculture to climate change.
Cattle farmers were none to happy about these associations. President of the Argentine Feedlot Chamber believes that it is the big cities who are really harming the planet and is quoted as saying “Livestock farming does care for the planet. Besides, there are a lot of other matters to discuss here. Let’s start with the big cities, not the countryside.” However, science is not on his side. Animal agriculture, in particularly the farming of cows, is linked to high greenhouse gas emissions and is very inefficient in providing people with the calories that they need to survive.
Ulises Forte, head of the IPCVA (the Institution for the Promotion of Argentinian Beef) has dismissed health claims as nonsense stating that ‘No doctor will tell you that fat-free, barbecued or oven cooked meat…is bad for you.’ While this statement may be true due to a severe lack of nutritional education when it comes to healthcare training, that doesn’t mean that meat is in fact good for you at all.
As an ambassador for The Casa Rosada, Andreis has spoken openly about why Macri chose to serve vegan food every Monday and why indeed he’s called it vegan Monday. Andreis believes that a change in dietary habits is desperately needed in Argentina and the only way to do this is to encourage discussion: “If we had called it ‘Healthy Monday’ or ‘Veggie Monday’ you wouldn’t be reading this [announcement],” ‘Vegan’ is certainly a loaded word in today’s society and despite the backlash from the meat industry it seems that the Argentinian president might have actually got the exact reaction he was hoping for.