Quantcast

Meat Industry Wins in Dietary Guidelines for Americans

The Obama administration’s newly released 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans fails to provide clear guidance to the public around lowering meat consumption, despite strong scientific evidence presented by its own Advisory Committee on the need for Americans to eat less meat for health, food security and environmental reasons. More than 21,000 public comments, 700 health professionals and hundreds of mayors have expressed support for the committee’s recommendations on the importance of diets with less meat and more plant-based foods.

The guidelines, which are widely promoted to the public, help guide nutrition education programs and menu planning for government institutions, including schools, prisons, military facilities and federal cafeterias.

“Given the huge health and environmental costs of diets high in factory farmed meat, the lack of clear guidance on lowering meat consumption does a disservice to the public and our future food security,” Kari Hamerschlag, senior program manager with Friends of the Earth, said. “The administration has clearly put the financial interests of the meat industry over the weight of the science and the health of the American people.”

While none of the key recommendations specifically urge less meat consumption, the findings and portion size recommendations buried deep in the report suggest that Americans do in fact need to be eating less meat. For example, the report says that “lower intakes of meats … have often been identified as characteristics of healthy eating patterns” and that “some individuals, especially teen boys and adult men, need to reduce … protein foods by decreasing intakes of meats, poultry and eggs, and increasing amounts of vegetables.” Also for the first time, the guidelines highlight a meat-free vegetarian diet as one of three healthy eating patterns.

The new guidelines also indicate a recommended maximum weekly intake of 26 ounces of meat, poultry and eggs (3.7 ounces per day for a 2,000 calorie diet). They fail, however, to note that the average person in 2013 ate 6 ounces of those foods per day, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) ERS data, 40 percent more than is recommended.

“It’s astonishing that the new dietary guidelines, which are supposed to help clarify what people should eat, are actually obscuring science-based recommendations that Americans should significantly cut their red meat intake,” Hamerschlag added. “Despite clear evidence that high red meat consumption is linked to cancer and threatens future food security because of its huge resource demands, the 2015 guidelines failed to make a specific portion size recommendation for red meat, as they did in the 2010 guidelines.”

Since the February 2015 release of the Advisory Committee’s Scientific Report, there has been unprecedented civic engagement, including an outpouring of public support for recommendations on environmental sustainability and diets with less meat and more plants:

  • petition to the USDA and Health and Human Services from 12 organizations garnered more than 150,000 signatories.

  • letter from 49 major health, public interest and environmental organizations was delivered to the USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell.

  • joint statement was signed by more than 150 environmental and health organizations and experts in support of sustainability, less meat and more plant-based foods.

  • letter of support was sent to Secretaries Vilsack and Burwell by more than 700 health professionals, including Yale University’s Dr. David Katz and Harvard University’s Dr. Walter Willett.

  • resolution adopted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and a letter from a subset of mayors was delivered to the USDA and Health and Human Services supporting the inclusion of sustainability considerations.

Consumer trends and attitudes, as well as increased vegetarian options in the marketplace demonstrate that the public is ready for guidelines recommending less meat and more plant-based diets:

  • 47 percent of the population eats at least one meal without meat per week, up from 40 percent six years earlier.

The Obama administration’s rejection of environmental sustainability in the guidelines was expected. In October 2015, USDA and Health and Human Services released a blog post stating that sustainability considerations were outside of the purview of the guidelines. However, a legal analysis commissioned by My Plate My Planet makes clear that statute itself in no way precludes the inclusion of sustainability considerations in the guidelines.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

We Have a Right to Know What’s in Our Food!

Greenpeace: Chinese Farmers Are Illegally Growing GMO Corn

FDA Bans Three Chemicals Linked to Cancer From Food Packaging

Two Indoor Farm Startups Stand Up to Alaska’s Short Growing Season

Sponsored
Prince William and British naturalist David Attenborough attend converse during the World Economic Forum annual meeting, on January 22 in Davos, Switzerland. Fabrice Cofferini /AFP / Getty Images

Britain's Prince William interviewed famed broadcaster David Attenborough on Tuesday at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Switzerland.

During the sit-down, the 92-year-old naturalist advised the world leaders and business elite gathered in Davos this week that we must respect and protect the natural world, adding that the future of its survival—as well as humanity's survival—is in our hands.

Read More Show Less
EV charging lot in Anaheim, California. dj venus / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Electric vehicle sales took off in 2018, with a record two million units sold around the world, according to a new Deloitte analysis.

What's more, the accounting firm predicts that another 21 million electric cars will be on the road globally over the next decade due to growing market demand for clean transportation, government subsidies, as well as bans on fossil fuel cars.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Teenager Alex Weber and friends collected nearly 40,000 golf balls hit into the ocean from a handful of California golf courses. Alex Weber / CC BY-ND

By Matthew Savoca

Plastic pollution in the world's oceans has become a global environmental crisis. Many people have seen images that seem to capture it, such as beaches carpeted with plastic trash or a seahorse gripping a cotton swab with its tail.

As a scientist researching marine plastic pollution, I thought I had seen a lot. Then, early in 2017, I heard from Alex Weber, a junior at Carmel High School in California.

Read More Show Less
Southwest Greenland had the most consistent ice loss from 2003 to 2012. Eqalugaarsuit, Ostgronland, Greenland on Aug. 1, 2018. Rob Oo / CC BY 2.0

Greenland is melting about four times faster than it was in 2003, a new study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found, a discovery with frightening implications for the pace and extent of future sea level rise.

"We're going to see faster and faster sea level rise for the foreseeable future," study lead author and Ohio State University geodynamics professor Dr. Michael Bevis said in a press release. "Once you hit that tipping point, the only question is: How severe does it get?"

Read More Show Less
Seismic tests are a precursor to offshore drilling for oil and gas. BSEE

Finally, some good news about the otherwise terrible partial government shutdown. A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration cannot issue permits to conduct seismic testing during the government impasse.

The Justice Department sought to delay—or stay—a motion filed by a range of coastal cities, businesses and conservation organizations that are suing the Trump administration over offshore oil drilling, Reuters reported. The department argued that it did not have the resources it needed to work on the case due to the shutdown.

Read More Show Less
Brazil, Pantanal, water lilies. Nat Photos / DigitalVision / Getty Images Plus

Most people have heard of the Amazon, South America's famed rainforest and hub of biological diversity. Less well known, though no less critical, is the Pantanal, the world's largest tropical wetland.

Like the Amazon, the Pantanal is ecologically important and imperiled. Located primarily in Brazil, it also stretches into neighboring Bolivia and Paraguay. Covering an area larger than England at more than 70,000 square miles, the massive wetland provides irreplaceable ecosystem services that include the regulation of floodwaters, nutrient renewal, river flow for navigability, groundwater recharge and carbon sequestration. The wetland also supports the economies of the four South American states it covers.

Read More Show Less
Demonstrators participate in a protest march over agricultural policy on Jan. 19 in Berlin, Germany. Carsten Koall / Getty Images Europe

By Andrea Germanos

Organizers said 35,000 people marched through the streets of the German capital on Saturday to say they're "fed up" with industrial agriculture and call for a transformation to a system that instead supports the welfare of the environment, animals and rural farmers.

Read More Show Less
MarioGuti / iStock / Getty Images

By Patrick Rogers

If you have ever considered making the switch to an environmentally friendly electric vehicle, don't drag your feet. Though EV prices are falling, and states are unveiling more and more public charging stations and plug-in-ready parking spots, the federal government is doing everything it can to slam the brakes on our progress away from gas-burning internal combustion engines. President Trump, likely pressured by his allies in the fossil fuel industry, has threatened to end the federal tax credits that have already helped put hundreds of thousands of EVs on the road—a move bound to harm not only our environment but our economy, too. After all, the manufacturing and sale of EVs, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids supported 197,000 jobs in 2017, according to the most recent U.S. Energy and Employment Report.

Read More Show Less