BUENOS AIRES — It goes without saying that beef is a big deal in Argentina, where barbecuing remains an almost sacrosanct pillar of social life. And yet, as of January, consumption has dropped to an historic low of 41 kilograms per person annually. So what gives?

That's the question Argentine beef lobbyists in what's known as the IPCVA, the meat industry's promotion institute, are asking. Could it be that the rise of vegetarianism and veganism are taking a toll?

The question has particular relevance given that just this past January, former Beatles singer Paul McCartney wrote to Argentine President Alberto Fernández to ask him to join the Meat Free Monday initiative.

To gauge the impact, IPCVA asked a sample population of 1,100 nationwide how they reacted to such actions on the part of environmental or vegan activists. The result? Seven out of 10 said that such campaigns did not lead to reduced meat consumption. Respondents found such actions ineffective, in other words.

Why, then, are Argentine's cutting back on beef? For money reasons, most likely.

That, at least, is the conclusion of the IPCVA, which accuses pro-vegetarian activists of being unnecessarily divisive. Their campaigns merely add to the "the social divides we sadly have in our country," the institute deplores.

Beef consumption has dropped to an historic low of 41 kg per person annually — Photo: Juan Ignacio Roncoroni/EFE via ZUMA Press

In this case, the lobby group argues, there's a "food divide," with people expressing their opposition to one another "in the way each of us manifests his or her way of eating."

Most of the poll's respondents effectively blamed vegans for feeding this gastronomic divide, accusing them of being more "narrow-minded" than meat eaters.

How should the meat sector respond to this hostile setting? Should it defend itself?

The IPCVA tells this daily that "clearly" for both the countryside and the city, where meat is produced and consumed, meat was not to blame for "this senseless argument."

"A meat eater would never reject a vegan... and always make place for them at a barbecue, so they can share grilled vegetables if they want to," states the lobby group.


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