Let them eat steak

Prince Charles has told Americans they're eating too much beef. But will it have an impact?

Back in May, Prince Charles visited Washington and told Americans to stop eating so much beef.

Acknowledging that he was entering dangerous territory in a speech to the Future of Food Conference at Georgetown University, the Prince indicated that the fondness of Americans for large quantities of red meat is causing irreparable damage to the environment.

This may be true, but asking Americans to reduce their beef intake is a bit like asking the Irish to lay off the Guinness, or persuading Italians to go on a pasta-free diet. It’s not going to happen.

Off message

It’s reckoned that around 41 kilos of beef is eaten by each person in the US every year. That’s a hefty amount of cow. Maybe the success of the Royal Wedding meant they’d taken their eye of the ball a bit, but royal aides probably should have worked out that the Prince’s dietary advice wasn’t going to play too well with a public used to eating as much meat as they want, when they want to.

Don’t mess with our menus

Evidence, if it were needed, that on the other side of the Atlantic they don’t exactly appreciate being lectured on their eating habits came with the treatment meted out to Jamie Oliver in Los Angeles earlier this year.

Reacting to what they had seen in the first series of his “Food Revolution”, school chiefs thwarted well-meaning Jamie’s attempts to film school cafeterias serving cheeseburgers. They revoked his filming licence and the subsequent series was unceremoniously shunted around the TV schedules.

Changing habits

That’s not to say there aren’t moves to encourage a reduction in the consumption of meat by some US citizens. In the case of KFC it’s white meat rather than red, so it’s not exactly what Charles was getting at.

Nevertheless, my guess is he’d be encouraged by the initiative of the marketing people at the fried chicken giant – who’ve removed the company’s famous “finger lickin’ good” catchphrase from their advertising. It’s clearly an effort to rein in the appetites of some of KFC’s more voracious diners. But will it work?

Heart Attack Sandwich anyone?

The chances of KFC’s plan succeeding are, it has to be said, pretty slim. This is a land where, in the past few weeks, two fast food restaurants have started a legal battle over the right to sell something called “The Instant Heart Attack Sandwich” (it contains a lot of meat).

It appears that the ability to enjoy astonishingly large portions of meat is seen as something approaching a constitutional right. It’s a privilege that’s jealously guarded and, if the energy with which the court battle is being fought is anything to go by, selling this stuff must also be highly profitable.

The Grill v The Deli

The improbable lawsuit pits an Arizona-based outfit encouragingly called The Heart Attack Grill, and according to its own website “internationally famous for embracing and promoting an unhealthy diet of incredibly large hamburgers” against the altogether more refined sounding New York’s 2nd Avenue Deli. The New York Times has this eatery down as an “ethnic culinary legend”.

The Grill claims the Deli is ripping off its trademark quadruple bypass burger - a stack of beef with multiple cheese slices, usually served with, em, hilariously named “Flatliner Fries”.

The Deli is allegedly doing this by offering hungry customers something called an “Instant Heart Attack” sandwich. This comprises two large potato pancakes, with a choice of beef, pastrami or salami and, if you’re tempted, it sells at a very reasonable $24.

Marketing gimmick

OK, so the whole court case thing might be a fairly crude attention-seeking, marketing gimmick. The thing is though, the food is insanely popular. Without being too harsh, the prevalence of this type of food in America – and people’s addiction to it – illustrates how futile Charles’ plea was.

Best of British

You can imagine the distress these multiple layered beef concoctions might cause our royal heir. But the next time he gets some valuable face time with Americans of influence, Charles might be better to go on the offensive. Tell them about what’s good to eat – particularly what’s good to eat and British.

It may be stretching it a bit to encourage the eating of British beef but what about New Windsor lamb? It seems to make an appearance at every royal “do” of note these days - from the Obama state banquet to Kate and William’s wedding supper. And lambs, well, they’re really small too.

Alternatively, if you're a real lamb fan, you could go Down Under instead and check out these delicious Australian lamb shanks from Westin Gourmet. They only cost £3.61 per serving!

Your view

What do you think? Was Charles right to go tough on steak? Let us know in the comments box below.

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