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Meat Industry Rails Against Pro-Vegan Federal Report

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In response to unprecedented dietary guidelines set to be considered by the American government, the meat industry is looking to poke any holes in a pro plant-based diet recommendation.

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee for the first time in its over 20 year history included in their final report consideration for environmental sustainability. The conclusions go to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, which will create a final report later this year.

The nearly 600 page report declares that the average U.S. diet has a larger environmental impact than a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, grains, and low-to-nonexistent dairy and meat products. Land use, water use, and greenhouse gas emissions are all reduced in moving towards a plant-based diet.

Defending their industry by any means possible, meat-backers are claiming the panel is overreaching, while Congress is urging the group to stay within their purview of nutrition. That is, those who have a vested interest in keeping the meat industry alive aren’t necessarily denying the science, but instead talking politics and policy.

“When you talk about the lens of the dietary guidelines, it’s just not appropriate for the advisory committee to enter that conversation when they were asked to look at nutrition and health science,” said Kristina Butts, executive director of legislative affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

The North American Meat Institute also spoke out; Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (D) said he was unsure of the extent of the job, while 70 House Republicans sent a letter to two departments expressing their concern.

A pair of sustainability experts worked with the panel on this issue.

“The scope is ours to fully define,” said Barbara Millen, chairwoman of the advisory committee and a professor at Boston University School of Medicine. “Because we are encouraging Americans to eat more seafood, we felt we needed to look at the sustainability of that issue as well.”

The report lays out three diets: vegetarian, Mediterranean, and a healthy-U.S. diet.

“The organically grown vegan diet also had the lowest estimated impact on resources and ecosystem quality, and the average Italian diet had the greatest projected impact,” says the report. “Beef was the single food with the greatest projected impact on the environment; other foods estimated to have high impact included cheese, milk, and seafood.”

The public has under May 8 to read over the guidelines and offer any comments.

Via The Hill

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