For the first time ever, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee made the choice to give a recommendation regarding environmental sustainability by pointing out that a plant-based vegan diet has the lowest possible impact on the ecosystem while animal-based food wreaks havoc on the environment in the long run. Its recommendation was harshly responded by industry groups supporting the consumption of beef, pork and poultry. Beside the awesome health benefits of a vegan diet, the committee advised against the consumption of processed meat as it contains saturated facts leading to serious cardiovascular disease. Read on to learn more about this very interesting report.
“A federal panel that helps set federal dietary guidelines is recommending Americans eat less meat because it’s better for the environment, sparking outrage from industry groups representing the nation’s purveyors of beef, pork and poultry.
The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, a federally appointed panel of nutritionists created in 1983, decided for the first time this year to factor in environmental sustainability in its recommendations. They include a finding that a diet lower in animal-based foods is not only healthier, but has less of an environmental impact.
The meat industry is lashing back, contending the panel has neither the authority nor the expertise to make such a judgment.
“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 (NAMI) agrees, saying sustainability is a complex issue best left to a body that specializes in the environment.
“The same concern would exist if an expert sustainability committee were making nutrition policy recommendations,” Betsy Booren, NAMI’s vice president of scientific Affairs, said in a public meeting last week. “It is not appropriate for the person designing a better light bulb to be telling Americans how to make a better sandwich.”
The Agriculture Department and Department of Health and Human Services will use the committee’s report and recommendations to draft the final guidelines for 2015, due out later this year.
But even Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has said sustainability is an issue that falls outside the scope of the guidelines.
“I read the actual law,” he was quoted saying in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “And what I read … was that our job ultimately is to formulate dietary and nutrition guidelines. And I emphasize dietary and nutrition because that’s what the law says. I think it’s my responsibility to follow the law.”
But members of the committee say they had free reign to discuss food supply in recommending what people should and shouldn’t be eating.
“The scope is ours to fully define,” said Barbara Millen, chairwoman of the advisory committee and a professor in the Department of Family Medicine 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.”
In response to the claims about a lack of expertise, Millen said the panel did bring in two domestic sustainability experts to work with the committee members.
The 571-page report says the average U.S. diet has a larger environmental impact in terms of increased greenhouse gas emissions, land use, water use and energy use than the healthy dietary pattern it suggests — one that’s rich in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, seafood, legumes and nuts; moderate in low- and non-fat dairy products and alcohol; and lower in red and processed meat, sugar-sweetened foods and beverages, and refined grains.
In its review of scientific studies, the committee highlighted research concluding that a vegan diet had the most potential health benefits.”
Read the full article here: thehill.com!