2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Cory Booker is being trolled by the beef industry, a group so powerful it once made the invincible Oprah Winfrey defend herself in court for allegedly denigrating beef. Beef, you know, it’s what’s for dinner — as the famous TV commercial intoned. Beef is an all-American staple, as American as the frontier mindset, the idea of the American cowboy and, well, McDonald’s. And beef is also a big product in the economy of Wyoming, where Rep. Liz Cheney took issue with Booker’s veganism on behalf of big beef. (Cheney is the daughter of meat-loving former vice president Dick Cheney.)
Sen. Booker’s dietary restrictions make him, as a dedicated vegan, out of step with most Americans (at least as far as diet goes) — only about 8% of Americans are vegetarians. Booker is also a guy for whom beef is not just off the menu, it’s apparently off-putting. Despite his Division 1 football playing background (Stanford), a stereoptype that lends itself to hearty meat-eating, Booker doesn’t pack in the protein with juicy burgers like so many players. And to many people, the choice to forego the beef makes Booker a target — or at least vaguely suspicious. (Every candidate is supposed to be able to have a beer and a burger, you know, with regular folk.) So in addition to abstaining, is Booker an evangelist for the vegan life style? Well if leadership by example is an indicator, then yes.
Booker is at least enough of a spokesperson for the vegan life to draw the ire of Cheney, who speaks on behalf of BeefUSA when she trolls Booker on Twitter by saying she supports “PETA – People Eating Tasty Animals.” That’s a twist version of PETA custom-made to trigger the original PETA people, the “People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.” Both sides are used to bloody arguments — PETA advocates have been known to throw blood on the wearers of fur coats, while the beef industry is as bloody as it gets.
— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) February 12, 2019
But to give an idea of the rarity of Booker’s vegan position in politics, consider this from The New Republic: “Booker is looking to make history with his 2020 bid. America has never elected a vegetarian president before, much less a vegan. Before Booker, a vegetarian had never even been elected to the Senate before.” Neither has America yet elected to its highest office a former mayor of Newark, NJ, so Booker may have bigger things to worry about than his beef with beef. But these candidates need to connect wherever they can, and Booker’s veganism is, obviously, already an issue.
[Note: if you want to know a lot about Cory Booker and crooked politics and how the whole dirty thing goes down sometimes, watch the utterly mesmerizing one-hour film Street Fight, wherein Booker is the good guy who loses anyway — which is the way it goes sometimes.]