With Confusion over Clarity still Reigning Supreme
- We are finally hearing from a few mainstream experts that we should be eating less meat and more plants.
- They are saying that we should eat a more plant-based diet because it is healthier AND it has a lower environmental impact.
- They specifically say that we should eat less fatty meats like bacon.
The bad news still abounds: (See links to source articles below)
- It took the committee 571 pages to make their case.
- They are still advising that we eat MORE low fat dairy.
- They’re also saying that eggs are OK.
- The “good news” cited above will no doubt be reduced in the official 2015 Dietary Guidelines to be released later this year.
- Even in the best-case scenario, these recommendations are a clear example of too little, too late—when it comes to saving our ecosystem AND our civilization.
Why do I say too little, too late? Because, even if ALL of the committee’s recommendations were included in the official guidelines, it would take decades to make much of a difference in what most Americans are actually eating. And what about the rest of the world?
In the greater scheme of things, our share of the total global meat consumption has been dropping for some time now. China now consumes twice as much meat as we do.
In my 9-25-14 blog (below), I pointed out that our modest meat reductions in the USA are being wiped out by massive increases in the developing world. For example:
- From 2009 to 2010, meat consumption in the USA went down by 36,000 metric tons.
- During that same time period, meat consumption went UP in China by two million metric tons—prompting me to draw this conclusion:
For every American or European who is beginning to eat less meat, there are about 100 people in the developing world headed in the other direction.
Meanwhile, people like Mark Bittman have to dig through 571 pages in order to summarize it such that the average reader of the New York Times can understand it. I had to chuckle at the first line of this summary paragraph:
Industry representatives hate the report — a good indicator of its value — and will fight to keep its recommendations from becoming policy. (Saying “eat less meat” is way different from saying “eat more lean meat.”) We should carefully monitor the current public comment period, which will be followed by a review by the Health and Agriculture Departments later this year, before the official Dietary Guidelines for Americans will be published. The smart environmental qualifications, and much else, will be fought furiously. But whatever is adopted will become official policy and will strongly affect school lunches and other federally funded meal-serving programs. Overall, these recommendations deserve our support (you can register your comments here) and our awareness that they need to go further.
While the recommendations noted that the plant-based foods have less environmental impact than animal-based foods, they came up way short in explaining exactly what that means—to the health of our ecosystem and its impact on the future of our civilization and the survival of the human species.
Finally, the pork producers weigh in with their take on the new recommended guidelines.
“It appears the advisory committee was more interested in addressing what’s trendy among foodies than providing science-based advice for the average American’s diet,” Hill said. “Have we really come to the point where alcohol is okay and meat isn’t”?
The Bottom Line. While it’s great to see a little good news on the official dietary guideline front, it’s distressing to consider just how far away we are from actually beginning to REDUCE our global consumption of meat. We’ve already passed a number of environmental tipping points as explained in the last blog referenced below.
If we’re to have a chance of saving our civilization, we’ll need powerful global leadership to develop and execute an international campaign urging people to start making radical changes in their diets immediately.
- Mark Bittman in the New York Times, 2-25-15. How Should We Eat?
- Article quoted by Mark Bittman. Less meat, more veggies: Big Food is freaking out about the “nonsensical” new dietary guidelines.
- BBC article, 2-19-15. U.S. Panel Backs Low-Meat Diet for Helping Planet
- “Dietary Panel Takes Wrong Approach,” says pork producers.
- My 9-25-14 blog. Meat consumption down? “Renewables” surging?
- My 1-17-15 blog. Racing past environmental “tipping points” in 2015
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- Food choices are the primary cause of our environmental problems, yet our world leaders, scientists & experts are Comfortably Unaware, by Richard Oppenlander.
Why should we be eating mostly plants? The “big picture” in 4 minutes.
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