This week Indianapolis hosts the national convention of Future Farmers of America (FFA), which has helped educate generations of young American farmers-to-be. Many FFA members grow up to put steaks, pork chops, drumsticks, milk, and eggs on our tables. The group’s best known program involves teaching children as young as seventh-graders to raise beef and dairy cattle. The kids then enter their prize animals in livestock-judging competitions and sell them at state and county fair auctions. So we were surprised (okay, a little annoyed) to learn that country singer Carrie Underwood — a long-time vegetarian and supporter of the anti-meat Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) — will headline tomorrow night’s FFA Convention kickoff concert.
Yes, that’s a link to HSUS’s website at the bottom of Underwood’s official website. And that’s her voice promoting HSUS’s fundraising after Hurricane Katrina (the same $32 million effort being formally investigated by Louisiana’s Attorney General). Underwood told an online Washington Post chat in January that she has also “donated a lot of articles of clothing [to HSUS] for them to auction off.”
Underwood takes her meatless eating seriously. In 2005 PETA gained a willing spokesperson by naming her the “World’s Sexiest Vegetarian.” She told Reader’s Digest in June that “to me, every single animal has a heart and a mind and a soul … I’m a vegetarian.” And speaking to the ‘tween audience of “PBS Kids” this year, she explained:
I quit eating beef when I was about thirteen. I kind of phased everything out, so it took a few years actually. I do it because I really love animals and it just makes me sad. Like, I don’t like to watch commercials where they have meat. It weirds me out.
It’s tough to decide who’s more masochistic: Carrie Underwood, for subjecting herself to a live-action commercial for animal agriculture that’s likely to really “weird her out”? Or the FFA leadership, who we assume have heard about Underwood being booed at a Nebraska concert this summer after announcing — in the middle of cattle country — that she won’t eat beef.
Cowboy activist and broadcaster Trent Loos is encouraging FFA members to walk out of the concert in protest tomorrow night after the opening acts perform. It’s a tall order for kids who have paid good money to be entertained. For those who can’t stomach voting with their feet, we recommend listening while eating a juicy burger or a fragrant pulled-pork barbecue sandwich. Especially those of you in the first few rows.