Kamala Harris Says Meat Is Destroying the Planet
Kamala Harris addressed meat and global warming during CNN's climate talks. | The Washington Post / Contributor

Kamala Harris Says Meat Is Destroying the Planet

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris says meat is bad for the environment. To fight the climate crisis, she believes Americans must cut their meat consumption.

(Updated November 2020) Vice President-elect Senator Kamala Harris says Americans need to be educated about the impact that meat production has on the planet.

Harris, who made history this November as the first woman, first Black woman, and first Indian-American woman to be nominated to the office of Vice President of the United States, has made her thoughts about meat production and climate change well-known.

Speaking to CNN during a town hall on the climate crisis in 2019, Harris said that, although she does enjoy the occasional cheeseburger, the U.S. government needs to create incentives for Americans to make more environmentally-friendly decisions with their food.

“I love cheeseburgers from time to time, I just do,” she said. “But there has to be also what we do in terms of creating incentives that we will eat in a healthy way, that we will encourage moderation, and that we will be educated about the effects of our eating habits on our environment.

Climate change is a key focus for VP-Elect Kamala Harris and President-Elect Joe Biden. 

Where Does Kamala Harris Stand on Climate Change?

“We have to do a much better job with that and the government has to do a much better job with that,” she continued. She added that she would support changing the U.S. dietary guidelines to reduce the recommended intake of red meat specifically.

Meat production has a detrimental impact on the environment. Recurring Amazonian fires are caused by cattle farmers clearing land for beef production. Animal agriculture also emits high levels of greenhouse gases. Last year, the United Nations Environment Programme named tackling meat consumption as the world’s most urgent problem.

As a senator, Harris released a $10 trillion climate plan, aiming to make the U.S. a carbon-neutral economy by 2045. The plan—which is “about putting people first,” she said —centers on carbon-neutral electricity and zero-emission transportation.

How will the Biden Administration Tackle the Climate Crisis?

Harris joins President-elect Joe Biden in prioritizing the climate crisis as an urgent issue facing all Americans, and the world. While on the campaign trail, the Harris-Biden ticket promoted their plans to tackle the climate crisis. They focused on agribusiness, greenhouse gas emissions, the meat industry, animal testing, and food justice. A few key points:

  • Biden advocates paying farmers to reach net-zero emissions on their farms.
  • Biden supports including farmers in the development of new technologies and new seeds. This would mean that private companies are not the only beneficiaries of future successes.
  • Harris introduced the Fairness for Farm Workers Act in the Senate. The bill would require businesses to pay agricultural workers overtime pay of one-and-a-half-times the usual rate. The bill would also repeal exemptions for overtime pay for some businesses, including small farmers.
  • In March 2017, Harris co-sponsored a bill that would put undocumented agricultural workers on a path to citizenship and shield them from deportation.
  • In July, Biden announced a $2 trillion plan to invest in clean energy jobs, including in clean vehicle production.
  • Biden advocates updating infrastructure (like water supply and buildings) to withstand climate change.
  • Biden supports climate research and innovation investments.
  • In July, Harris introduced the Environmental Justice For All Act alongside Senators Cory Booker and Tammy Duckworth. Among other aspects of the Act, it would support communities and workers as they transition away from fossil fuels.
  • In July, Harris also introduced the Water For Tomorrow Act. The act would invest in infrastructure to address the impact of climate change on the water supply.
  • In July, Harris co-sponsored a bill that would prohibit meat processing plants and slaughterhouses from operating at high speeds.
  • Biden supports the FEMA Empowering Essential Deliveries (FEED) Act, which would temporarily allow the federal government to pay nonprofits and restaurants to provide meals for seniors and underprivileged children during the coronavirus.
  • In May, Harris co-introduced the FEED Act, which would temporarily allow the federal government to pay nonprofits and restaurants to provide meals for seniors and underprivileged children during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Biden will recommit to the Paris Agreement, from which President Trump withdrew in 2017. The Agreement is a pledge by 200 countries to reduce greenhouse emissions and to help poorer countries adapt to climate change. Biden has pledged to rejoin on day one of his administration.
  • According to the New York Times, on the same day, Biden will sign an executive order to “conserve 30% of United States land and waters by 2030.”
  • The New York Times also reports that Biden has said he will sign an executive order requiring public companies “to disclose climate change-related financial risks and greenhouse gas emissions in their operations.”
  • Biden is expected to cancel Trump’s 2017 executive order to lift restrictions on offshore energy exploration and production.