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03-21-2010, 08:23 PM
Merchants have a beef with
gov.'s no-meat day

By Christopher Behnan • Daily Press & Argus •
March 18, 2010

Encouraging Michiganders not to eat meat — even if
just for one day — constitutes a boycott in a
struggling state economy, one Livingston County
meat seller said.

That was the reaction of Michael Shasteen, owner of
Marv’s Meats in Green Oak Township, to the
Michigan Meatout Day, or day without eating meat,
this Saturday, called for in a proclamation by Gov.
Jennifer Granholm.

Granholm’s proclamation urges Michiganders to eat
vegetables, fruits and whole grains Saturday, citing
their health benefits over meat.

Shasteen said the governor’s move makes her less
favorable than she already is with many small-
business owners.

“Michigan not being the poster child for economic
vitality, I guess to encourage consumers to what in
effect is boycotting a certain segment of our
economy is kind of irresponsible,” he said.

“I wonder if Mothers Against Drunk Driving asked
for a boycott of green beer today, would she be as
willing to do that?” Shasteen added on Wednesday,
St. Patrick’s Day.

Shasteen said a proclamation urging Michiganders
to take more walks or ride bicycles would have
promoted health without taking a hit on businesses.

Don Miller, butcher at Great Lakes Butcher Supply in
Oceola Township, between Howell and Hartland
Township, shared Shasteen’s sentiments.

Miller said his business is steady and growing,
despite the economy, but that just one day’s loss of
business would harm that flow.

“Losing one customer is bad. Saturday’s probably
one of our best days,” he said.

“That is going to hurt us for quite a while,” Miller

Both he and Shasteen plan to make light of
Granholm’s proclamation during business hours
Saturday. They won’t be alone.

Michigan United Conservation Clubs posted an
image of the proclamation on its Facebook page
Wednesday, quickly eliciting a call from members to
observe Meatout Day by having a massive barbecue
on the Capitol lawn.

Judy Daubenmier, head of the Livingston County
Democratic Party, meanwhile, said that particular
protest of Michigan Meatout Day could lead to an
affront toward Catholics who already don’t eat meat
on Fridays.

Daubenmier, a Catholic, said the MUCC’s protest of
the meatout could lead an “attack” on her faith.

She said meat markets already lose business from
Catholics on Fridays, and that Saturday’s meatout
will boost businesses that sell fish, fresh produce
and grains.

“Aren’t they losing business on Friday? What’s the
Advertisement difference?” Daubenmier asked.

“Don’t we grow fruits and vegetables in Michigan as
well?” she added.

She said Meatout Day could contribute to reducing
health-care costs of those on state-funded health
care by focusing diet on produce and grains instead
of meat.

Meat-eating isn’t being singled out, Daubenmier
contended, because the state has already approved
a smoking ban in public places and some schools
are getting rid of candy and pop machines.

Shasteen said implications that meat is unhealthy
are irresponsible, given that animals have been bred
to produce leaner and leaner meat over the past 20

He said meat is the “No. 1” source for protein in
diets, and that choosing lean cuts of meat can
contribute to a healthy diet.

“To imply that meat is unhealthful is uneducated,
kind of reckless. One could say the same thing
about putting too much salad dressing on your
salad,” Shasteen said.

Freya Dinshah, president of the American Vegan
Society, said Americans can create a healthier diet t
hrough unrefined foods, including whole grains,
vegetables and legumes.

Dinshah said most scientific studies support plants
as a healthier source of proteins than meat
products. She said www.meatout.org, a grass-roots
diet-education campaign and a program of the Farm
Animal Rights Movement, is usually behind Meatout
Days like Saturday’s.

On its Web site, the program states thousands of
people across the country become active in its
events, normally held around March 20.

Granholm on Wednesday also declared Saturday as
Michigan Agriculture Day to coincide with National
Agriculture Day.

In a press release, the governor said Michigan’s
agricultural diversity offers something for everyone,
including “top-quality meat.”

“Whether Michiganians celebrate Michigan
Agriculture Day with a cheeseburger made with
Michigan beef and dairy or a soup made with
Michigan beans, I hope people throughout the state
take a moment to enjoy Michigan’s agricultural
bounty on Saturday,” Granholm said.

On Wednesday, the state Senate called on Granholm
to retract her proclamation. Attorney General Mike
Cox, a Republican gubernatorial candidate,
announced plans to hold a barbecue Saturday at his
campaign headquarters.

Contact Daily Press & Argus reporter Christopher
Behnan at (517) 548-7108 or at cbehnan@gannett.