BUJUMBURA, BURUNDI–The Burundi Beef Council, a non-profit organization that offers beef recipes, beef-safety information, and tips on low-fat cooking and eating, made a desperate plea Monday for any beef whatsoever.

A young boy sits beside one of the Burundi Beef Council's new billboards.

"I beg of you, please send my people some beef, so that we may have something to put on the grill for a 'Great Summer Steakout,'" said Burundi Beef Council president Ketumile Nkewale, kicking off an ambitious $800 campaign promoting the consumption and donation of beef. "There are so many mouth-watering, easy-to-prepare recipes, from grilled ribeye with mushroom sauce to Southwest sizzlin' sirloin tips, that we would love to try, if only there were some beef in Burundi."

Added Nkewale: "Beef... Do You Maybe Have Even A Little Bit Of It?™"

Following up on the Burundi Pork Board's successful "Pork: The Other Meat We Don't Have" campaign of last year, the promotional blitz targets the world's beef-donor demographic. It will take the form of print ads, billboards, and children holding empty bowls and wailing the slogan, "I Will Die Without Beef.™"

"Please do not think that we are picky or finicky in any way," Nkewale said. "While an Asian beef kabob or roasted sirloin with cranberry-jalapeño salsa would be a real taste sensation, the beef lovers of Burundi would be more than willing to accept the unwanted byproducts of industrial beef processing, including fat, gristle, organs, muscles, skin, eyes, hooves, cartilage, and bone."

Though the demand for beef has skyrocketed in Burundi in recent years, actual consumption has dwindled to zero pounds for the first half of the year 2000.

"Many factors have contributed to the decreased consumption of beef in Burundi, from health concerns to the total absence of any beef anywhere in our land," said Iringa Lubunda, the Burundi Beef Council's director of public relations. "As a result, many Burundians are turning instead to such alternate food sources as shoe leather, lichens, and individual grains of rice retrieved from anthills."

Added Lubunda: "For those of you who are trying to follow a heart-smart diet, remember: If, by some miracle from the gods, you had a 12-ounce cut of flank steak, it would contain just 11 grams of fat. That's less than a single cup of cream of potato soup."

Lubunda then began licking and chewing a glossy photograph of a flank steak from the beef council's press packet.

In addition to reiterating the plea for any beef at all, the press packet features recipes for a variety of tasty beef dishes that Burundians could prepare if given the necessary meat, from Apricot-Glazed Corned Beef to Beef & Broccoli Stir Fry to A Very Small Quantity Of Beef. The packet also tests beef lovers' "Beef IQ" with hamburger trivia, asking such questions as, "At which World's Fair did the hamburger make its debut?" and "What do you think a hamburger would taste like?"

Persons donating beef to Burundi will be eligible for a selection of gifts, from a "Thank You For The Life-Sustaining Beef" tote bag for a six-ounce donation to a lifetime of indentured servitude from a Burundi male for 12 or more ounces.