DENVER — The state’s latest MeatOut Day proclamation created a massive debate that’s even transcended state lines.
For Gov. Jared Polis, this is just one of hundreds of proclamations they do, and he said he wouldn’t be opposed to also having a Meat Appreciation Day.
But the livestock industry sees the governor’s move as a gut-punch and an attack on the state’s farm families.
For Watercourse Foods, a Denver vegan restaurant, MeatOut Day opens the door for people to try something new and out of their comfort zone.
"Why not try something new? Our kitchen is focused on creating exciting dishes that are exciting. That’s sort of the first step is presenting something that looks beautiful and something that you want to consume," said Juan Flores, who is a part of the restaurants leadership team.
The group Colorado Voters for Animals says choosing what to eat is a person’s personal decision and they can eat whatever they desire, whether that includes meat or not.
"Our whole focus is on animal welfare. We're more concerned about how animals are raised and taken care of than what people's dietary needs are," said Executive Director Roland Halpern.
Halpern said they have supporters within Colorado Voters for Animals who eat meat and others who are vegan. He doesn’t see how the governor’s decision is controversial.
"I think it's kind of a knee-jerk reaction. I don't see (how) the governor declaring for MeatOut Day is going to adversely affect any industry. I think it's just kind of raising awareness of some of the issues that are involved with farming, and there are some health issues with eating meat," Halpern said.
But for the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, the governor’s no-meat proclamation was in poor taste.
"I think what really punched our producers and livestock producers throughout the state in the gut is that this proclamation was excluding a product when most proclamations are celebrating a product," said Erin Karney, industry advancement director of Colorado Cattlemen’s Association.
The billion-dollar industry is feeling pushed to the side.
"We actually have a very good story to tell," Karney said. "The issue is that we're being targeted, and a lot of misinformation is out there."
For Alyssa Hightchew, who has been vegan for five years now, staying meat-free has helped her live a healthier life, but she doesn't think anybody should try going meatless if they're not comfortable with it.
"I think it has been very beneficial for my health and overall well-being," she said. "I don’t see it as a sacrifice at all compared to sacrificing an animal to eat."
So whether you protest the governor’s proclamation by grilling a steak or take it as a chance to broaden your horizon, it’s at the very least sparked a conversation across our state on what food make it to our tables.
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