No, President Biden has not banned beef as part of an updated policy to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.
Still, the recycling of this particular lie, including by big-state Republican governors, does speak to the tall task Biden may find as he convinces more local governments and the American people to get behind habit-changing behavior to slow global warming.
Reducing methane gas from livestock raised for beef and dairy has been the subject of several climate-change studies. Accordingly, it features in broad conversations about actions consumers might take to eat “greener.” As some consumers have changed dietary habits, private-sector food companies have responded.
An article in Britain’s right-leaning Daily Mail made a connection, without proof, that because of such studies a beef ban was coming straight from the top in the U.S.
In fact, the Mail’s beefy headline took several shots at Biden’s environmental focus in his first 100 days: ‘How Biden’s climate plan could limit you to eat just one burger a MONTH, cost $3.5K a year per person in taxes, force you to spend $55K on an electric car and ‘crush’ American jobs.’
The article was retweeted by Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and others, while Fox News shows repeated the claim — you’ll be forced down to ‘one burger a month’ — throughout its weekend shows. Fox, on Monday, said it misused a graphic and had errors in its script.
The original article was debunked by a fact checker, CNN’s Daniel Dale. And it was addressed in a Media Matters commentary on how the lie — symbolically leveraged as anti-American, replete with the emotional tug of Fourth of July grilling imagery — has had several lives on social media and elsewhere. Politifact has had to dissect the claim before. And as MarketWatch reported in 2019: Ocasio-Cortez, like Stalin, is coming for your burgers, former Trump aide warns.
But “truthiness” has been sharpened as a political weapon and some voters may find the perceived threat of drastic menu changes enough to convince them.
“Not gonna happen in Texas!” proclaimed the Republican Abbott, sharing the Fox graphic. He serves nearly 30 million constituents. Idaho’s Gov. Brad Little, retweeted Abbott: “Idahoans also have beef with this agenda and for dinner!”
The share of Americans who say global climate change is a major threat to the well-being of the U.S. has grown from 44% in 2009 to 60% in 2020, according to Pew Research.
About nine-in-ten Democrats (88%, including independents who lean to the party) consider climate change a major threat to the nation. About three-in-ten Republicans (31%) consider climate change a major threat, while 45% say it is a minor threat and 24% say it is not a threat to the nation.
Biden’s climate-change initiatives have come in the form of executive order and, more recently, as part of his infrastructure proposal, the size of which is already under debate on Capitol Hill.
One White House spokesperson joined the #NobodyIsComing4YourBigMacs Twitter rebuttal, although the subject was not addressed at Monday’s official press briefing.
Already, several companies, sensing trend changes in tastes and habits, have expanded their product lineups with meat alternatives, including for beef and chicken.
One of them, Impossible Foods, is prepping for a $10 billion IPO and has been in a fierce battle with publicly traded rival Beyond Meat Inc.
striking partnerships with major retailers and grocery stores, as well as product linkups with McDonald’s Corp.
and Restaurant Brands International Inc.
Some proposals for diet changes are directed at the animals themselves, including feeding livestock seaweed and lemongrass to reduce their gas.