Sorry, Meat Industry! U.S. Dietary Guidelines Report Rules Vegan Diet is Best for the Planet

GP

Meat Industry

Meat and potatoes, it’s the quintessential American meal. Well, based on the new scientific report from the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, Americans might want to start thinking more along the lines of plant-based meat and potatoes. And not just for the sake of their own health, but for the planet’s health as well.

That’s right, after a long and heated debate over whether or not the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee should take sustainability into consideration when creating the 2015 guidelines, the committee has spoken and they have!

“Consistent evidence indicates that, in general, a dietary pattern that is higher in plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and lower in animal-based foods is more health promoting and is associated with lesser environmental impact (GHG emissions and energy, land, and water use) than is the current average U.S. diet,” states the Committee in their newly released scientific report.

Naturally, this recommendation has the meat industry shaking in their boots, but the fact is, if Americans do not reduce their consumption of meat and dairy products, we will never be able to sustain food production as the population grows. Animal agriculture is also the leading cause of environmental degradation in the U.S. and arguably the entire planet. In the United States alone, at least 170,750 miles of rivers and 2,417,801 lake acres have been deemed “compromised” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency because of agricultural run-off. Globally, livestock production is responsible for 51 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

And promoting a primarily plant-based diet is not just better for the planet, but it isbeneficial for people as well. A diet high in whole, plant-based foods and low in saturated fat and cholesterol (mainly found in animal products), is known to reduce the risk of heart disease and obesity.

“Previous advisory panels have noted the value of vegetarian diets, but these recommendations have been expanded to specifically demonstrate how a vegetarian diet reduces the risk of many types of chronic disease,” says the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

So, what is not to like about the many lauded benefits of the committee’s recommendations? Well, for one, it deals quite the blow to the animal agricultural industry. When news first surfaced that the Committee might consider suggesting lowering their recommendations for meat and dairy consumption, the National Cattleman’s Beef Association was quick to undercut the decision, releasing a statement from Dr. Richard Thorpe that called the committee “biased” and the draft meat recommendations “absurd.” While the meat industry contends that lean meats can play a role in a healthy, balanced diet – there are plenty of plant-based protein sources that can do a better job (without the cholesterol).

Many environmental and animal rights groups have applauded the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee for their report (we certainly did!), but this does not guarantee that these recommendations will be reflected in the official 2015 guidelines. The animal agriculture industry has a significant influence in Washington and there is no doubt that they will throw as many lobbying dollars they possibly can at this “problem” to make it go away.

One thing is certain, however, this report sends a message that many people need to hear: our current food habits are neither sustainable nor healthy. Whether or not the guidelines reflect the findings of this report, we can all actively work to reduce (or completely eliminate) our personal consumption of animal products. When there are so many delicious plant-based options out there, making a better choice for you and the planet has never been easier!

Image source: evilrobotsmash/Flickr

Advertisements

Vitamin E

Vitamin E

You may have heard of Vitamin E buzzing around the beauty industry, or heard of foods rich in this vitamin to help protect your skin and even fight the looks of aging. And you’d be right in that your skin is one of the biggest benefits that this vitamin can provide for your health, but it’s also important for other functions in the body as well.  Vitamin E is a powerful, fat-soluble antioxidant that helps protect cell membranes against damage caused by free radicals and prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. The term vitamin E encompasses a group of eight compounds, called tocopherols and tocotrienols, that comprise the vitamin complex as it is found in nature.

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that acts as an  antioxidant in the body. It helps protect cell membranes against free radicals that cause damage to your skin and also prevents the oxidation of unhealthy cholesterol (LDL) that can lead to heart disease. Vitamin E is found abundantly in plant-based sources, as you’ll learn more about below.

Work this important vitamin into your diet with out tips, recipes, and learn more about how Vitamin E can benefit you.

  • OVERVIEW

    Vitamin E is crucial for the maintenance of skeletal, cardiac, and smooth muscle. It also assists in the formation of red blood cells and helps to maintain stores of other vitamins, such as Vitamin A, K, and the important minerals iron and selenium. Since it is a fat-soluble vitamin, it’s important that you eat enough healthy fats in your diet (preferably with meals) so your body can absorb the Vitamin E you’re also eating. Since Vitamin E is found in some plant-based sources of healthy fats, it’s quite easy to make sure you get enough. Though a deficiency in this vitamin is rare, it’s helpful to make it a point to eat foods with Vitamin E on a regular basis.

  • BENEFITS

    Vitamin E plays a role in immune system health, protects the heart against oxidative stress that leads to disease, prevents against cancer, Alzheimer’s, and even some diabetes-related health issues.

  • DAILY RECOMMENDED INTAKE

    The DRI (daily recommended intake) of Vitamin E for adults ages 14 and older is 15 milligrams. or 22-23 international units (IU). Mothers who are breastfeeding should increase their dosage to 19 mg (or 28.5 IU). Keep in mind that if you take a supplement with additional Vitamin E, there’s a small risk of toxicity since most multivitamins don’t have enough to cause an overdose when taken in combination of dietary sources, however, you should be sure to keep all sources (through your diet and supplements) away from high heat temperatures and exposure to air since it can cause the vitamin to go rancid and lose potency.

  • DIETARY SOURCES

    Good sources of Vitamin E in a plant-based diet are:

    • all nuts
    • all seeds
    • avocados
    • spinach
    • rice bran tocotrienols
    • wheat germ (contains 100 percent in just a tablespoon!)
    • whole grains
    • broccoli
    • mango
    • tomatoes
    • kiwi fruit
    • Swiss chard
    • olives
    • mustard greens
    • asparagus
    • beet greens
    • turnip greens

This content provided above is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.