Meat: The Benefits of the ‘Real Deal’

I love animals; they’re delicious. For me, this is more than a bumper sticker slogan; it’s a way of life.

Growing up on a beef cattle farm in Georgia, no meal made it to the table without some form of animal protein on it. There was always plenty of ground beef (read: cull cows) from our freezer along with fried chicken and smoked pork BBQ. The only “alternative protein” in our house was ground venison from my Dad’s occasional hunting trip that Mom would sneak into spaghetti or lasagna. I spent the first 18 years of my career in the meat business as a proud global ambassador for the Certified Angus Beef® brand. Today, I’m raising two little boys in Alabama who love smoked tri-tip as much as they love Cheerios and mac and cheese.

Not surprisingly, as a loud and proud voracious carnivore, I have very mixed feelings about the alternative proteins coming onto the market. While I’ll grudgingly admit that we need to co-exist with these new competitors (some of my favorite Millennials are even trying them!), the fact is they are coming after our hard-earned meat consumers. Now, I’m a glass-half-full kind of gal who likes to obsess over my clients rather than my competitors, so I usually don’t spend a lot of energy worrying about what the competition is up to. But we know that these trendy plant-based (and soon cell-based) protein players are pouncing on the 23 percent of current meat eaters who would like to eat a less-meat-oriented diet. * So, how do we as a meat industry fight to keep meat on the plate? I have two tried-and-true answers that play to our strengths and they are precisely the reasons why consumers love meat:  taste and nutrition.

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Fat is Flavor!

maggie-o'quinnAs a southerner raised in Georgia and now a proud nine-year resident of Alabama, I have enjoyed a lifelong love affair with saturated fat. I live for pork BBQ from local hole-in-the-wall restaurants with dirt floors (my favorite is Fresh Air BBQ in Jackson, GA), CAB® fat-on tri-tips on the grill and my husband’s buttermilk biscuits where lard is the not-so-secret ingredient. And no respectable southerner serves their greens without some saturated fat to make our dishes sing:  We are unapologetic about adding bacon to our kale and ham hocks to our collards.

I was born in 1975 at the time the “war on fat” was raging in our country. But I never understood why saturated fat was considered the evil enemy until I read Nina Teicholz’ book, “The Big Fat Surprise.” Her book is a fascinating dive into the studies that propelled the low-fat diet craze into our modern day lexicon.

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