There’s a new move among government diet experts to change the government’s dietary guidelines. The proposal involves less meat eating and more fruits, vegetables nuts, whole grains and other varieties of vegetables instead. These foods are not only making Americans healthier, but will also help preserve the environment.
As expected, this did not sit well with beef producers. They are questioning this approach saying that it’s unfair to them. They also questioned why the environment became a factor in in developing a healthy lifestyle. It has no relation, according to them.
Discussions have been going on between the advisory panel and the public in meetings. The recommendations, which are expected to help improve the environment, are due in early part of this year, 2015. The proposals are now being circulated saying that the diet plan should be able to ensure that food will be available always not only for today’s generation but also for generations to come.
A diet plan that is more plant-sourced and less animal meat fiber is “more health promoting and is associated with lesser environmental impact than is the current average U.S. diet,” the draft said.
Eating beef is more detrimental to the environment, this is according to research done by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last year. The beef industry is the only one taking a hit here since the research had mentioned that raising pigs and chickens are more environmentally viable compared to raising cows.
The research mentioned the following as the basis of their recommendations:
- Beef traps more heat per calorie which contributes more to the greenhouse effect.
- Beef production pollutes water sources with nitrogen.
- Beef requires more water for irrigation purposes.
- Beef production requires more land.
The advisory committee, which includes doctor and academicians, has been discussing the concept and has prepared a sustainability plan working on the premise of not only protecting the sources of food but also the foods with the best nutritional values. “Compatibility and overlap” is possible when it comes to developing good health and good environment.
Approximately one year from now, the Agriculture and Health and Human Services agencies will come up with the final version of the dietary plans after the recommendations are submitted. The same guidelines will be used in school lunches and other federal funded eating programs.
The country’s meat producers have consistently been against dietary plans that include consuming less meat for several years now. The new guidelines do not mention eating less meat but prefer lean or fat free meat preparations. This has been hotly discussed among the panel’s members. Last Dec. 15, the panel released a draft that mentioned fewer “red and processed meat” should be included in the diet plan.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association fired back by releasing a statement made by doctor and cattle producer Richard Thorpe charging the committee as being one-sided and claiming the proposals to be absurd. Lean beef has big part to play in healthy diets, according to him.
“Arbitrary and stunning”, that’s how the American Meat Institute called the attempt of the panel attempt to exclude lean meat from the new diet plan recommendation.
Congress has also objected to the new diet plan recommendation. It is putting on a notice that it’s planning to fight back if the president will continue the plan.
On the other hand, the committee and the government has the support of the environmentalists who are urging them to go on with the plan.
“We need to make sure our diets are in alignment with our natural resources and the need to reduce climate change,” said Kari Hamerschlag of the advocacy group Friends of the Earth.
Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public explained that the concept about broader guidelines isn’t new. They have been used to influence physical activity and food safety
“You don’t want to recommend a diet that is going to poison the planet,” he said.