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US state declares pro-meat day in row with neighbour

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After the state of Colorado issued a proclamation urging citizens to avoid eating meat, neighbouring state Nebraska fired a fierce rebuttal.

Speaking from a butcher shop, Nebraska governor Pete Ricketts, a Republican, said Colorado’s action was a “direct attack on our way of life”.

He declared 20 March – the same day as Colorado’s “MeatOut Day” – to be “Meat on the Menu Day”.

Beef is the largest industry in Nebraska, he said.

The state’s agriculture industry accounts for one out of every four jobs and ranchers in the state sell $12bn (£8.6bn) in meat products each year, according to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture director, Steve Wellman.

At a news conference in Omaha, the largest city in the mid-western state, Mr Ricketts said Nebraska would have a pro-meat eating day to directly counter Colorado’s non-binding vegetarian resolution, passed last month.

“MeatOut Day” was started in 1985 by the Farm Animal Rights Movement, and seeks to inform people about the health benefits of eating a plant-based diet.

Colorado’s proclamation, calling on residents to consider not eating meat on 20 March, states that “removing animal products from our diets reduces the risk of various ailments”, including heart disease, cancers, and diabetes.

“A plant-based diet helps protect the environment by reducing our carbon footprint, preserving forests, grasslands, and wildlife habitats, and reduces pollution of waterways,” the order adds.

Colorado governor Jared Polis is a meat-eater but his partner is a long-time vegan.

In Monday’s news conference, Nebraska’s governor added: “If you were to get rid of beef in our country, you would be undermining our food security, an important part of a healthy diet, and also destroying an industry here in our state that’s very important.”

media captionWould you eat chicken nuggets that were grown in a lab from cells taken from a living animal?

Nebraska declares May as “Beef Month” each year and also sells “Beef State” vehicle license plates.

This is not the first time that Mr Ricketts has lashed out at the state’s western neighbour, most notably against Colorado’s legal marijuana industry.

“If you legalise marijuana, you’re gonna kill your kids,” he said in a news conference last week, in response to a bill in the Nebraska legislature that would legalise medical cannabis there.

Mr Polis has not responded to the Nebraska governor’s pro-meat order.

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