A federally appointed nutritionist panel, The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, has finally decided to start factoring in the environmental sustainability in the recommendations which they provide for the general public. It does not come as a surprise that they established that a diet which is low on animal-based foods is the most environmentally sound.
Of course, it did not take long before the meat industry voiced their concerns (to put things mildly), saying that this particular panel is not qualified nor authorized to make such a judgment. Executive director of legislative affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Kristina Butts had this to say:
“When you talk about the lens of the dietary guidelines it’s just not appropriate for the advisory committee to enter that conversation when they were asked to look at nutrition and health science.”
It should not surprise anyone that she found an ally in The North American Meat Institute, whose vice president of scientific affairs, Betsy Booren had this to say:
“The same concern would exist if an expert sustainability committee were making nutrition policy recommendations. It is not appropriate for the person designing a better light bulb to be telling Americans how to make a better sandwich.”
While there is definitely validity to what they are saying, and while we agree that this is an issue that requires more research, perhaps conducted by someone more qualified, we cannot really say that the findings will be much different.
All in all, this seems like a PR battle for the time being.