BILLINGS — Social media was abuzz Wednesday after Miss Montana USA Merissa Underwood made posts on the Miss Montana USA Instagram account promoting a vegan lifestyle and misinformation about animal agriculture.
Underwood's post was aimed at encouraging people to help the environment by living a vegan lifestyle. She included several ideas on how to do so, and her #1 tip is that people should adopt a plant-based diet. She also included graphics that she claims show the environmental benefits of a vegan lifestyle, and what she believes is the harm that ranching and livestock does to the environment.
Underwood shared a meme with the statement, "Animal Agriculture is the most destructive industry facing our planet today."
"One thing I want to make quite clear is that I'm not talking about small scale family farms,” Underwood said in an Instagram audio post. “I am talking about large, mass corporations. I love all the facts and everything that people are showing me. I hope people are open and receptive to what I have to say."
The Montana Stockgrowers Association saw this as an opportunity to kick off a fact-based campaign to share agriculture’s story and correct the misinformation. MSGA shared scientific data and facts about agriculture and ranching.
The MSGA response stated, in part: "We recently saw your Instagram Stories on your thoughts on climate change and animal agriculture. As @missmtusa we think it’s vital to use your platform to represent Montana and the things that are important to our beloved state. Agriculture and the cattle industry are some of those things. Montana’s #1 industry is agriculture and we are proud to raise some of the best, most sustainable beef in the world. Ranchers care deeply for the animals they raise and the environment they raise them in."
On social media Miss Montana USA said that she wants to have an open conversation about agriculture and would be willing to tour a ranch. MTN News has tried to contact Underwood for a statement; we will update you if we get a response.
Her biography on the Miss Montana USA website states: "Merissa, 27, is a Junior at Loyola Marymount University where she will graduate with a BA in Journalism and a Minor in Political Science. She spent her entire life horseback riding competitively which led her to become an Animal Rights Activist & Environmentalist. She is passionate about raising awareness about the correlation between Factory Farming and Climate Change."