Critics say Uncle Sam’s dietary guidelines are based on politics rather than nutrition – and that argument soon could be strengthened.
That’s because the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is considering telling Americans to eat no meat in an effort to fight global warming, The Washington Post reported.
Environmental groups argue that carbon emissions from livestock – particularly from lamb and beef – contribute to global warming.
The USDA publishes dietary guidelines for Americans every five years. The guidelines are put together by a group called the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee or DGAC, which works with both the US Department of Health and the USDA. Critics fear the group will ban meat from the nutritional guidelines in order to lessen the impact on the environment from livestock farming.
Don’t Eat Meat?
Although in the past the guidelines have urged Americans to eat “lean meat,” that could be changing, essentially, to “no meat.” The words “lean meat” did not appear in a recommended diet for the American public presented at a Dec. 15, 2014, meeting of the DGAC that was closed to the public, Barry L. Carpenter, the president and CEO of the North American Meat Institute (NAMI), charged in a letter dated Dec. 30, 2014. Carpenter is apparently afraid that the DGAC is set to recommend Americans not eat meat.
“Somehow, during an 80-minute lunch meeting on December 15 closed to the public, [a DGAC subcommittee] removed ‘lean meat’ from the recommended dietary pattern the U.S. population should consume,” Carpenter wrote. “This omission suggests the DGAC fails to recognize the nutritional value lean meat offers and is ignoring the scientific evidence supporting its inclusion in the American diet.”
The guidelines are set to be submitted to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of Agriculture early this year. If approved, the guidelines then will be published in The National Register.
The 2010 Guidelines recommend that Americans “choose a variety of protein foods, which include seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds.”
They also state that Americans should:
- “increase the amount and variety of seafood consumed by choosing seafood in place of some meat and poultry.”
- “replace protein foods that are higher in solid fats with choices that are lower in solid fats and calories and/or are sources of oils.”
NAMI believes that the committee could recommend against meat consumption for environmental rather than nutritional reasons.
Changing Diets Overnight
“The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s focus on sustainability is objectionable because it is not within the committee’s expertise,” a statement from NAMI charged.
Livestock accounts for 15 percent of total carbon emissions worldwide, The Post reported.
“Americans don’t necessarily heed dietary recommendations,” Janet Riley of the North American Meat Institute told The Post. “But where this could have a huge impact is on purchasing programs. The federal feeding programs are significantly impacted by the federal dietary guidelines.”
Almost overnight, it could impact school lunches, changing the lives of millions of Americans and pushing them away from a meat diet.
Do you support a change in the American diet? Should the government discourage meat consumption? Share your thoughts in the section below: