Soon the latest Dietary Guidelines will be issued, and if the comments of both the officials involved and the activists cheering them on are any indication, get set for some very bad news.
Last week marked the end of the comment period for USDA’s and the Department of Health and Human Services; latest edition of the Dietary Guidelines — at least the preliminary recommendations issued by the scientific Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.
As has been well-publicized, that committee addressed sustainability in its report and stated that, “A healthy dietary pattern is … lower in red and processed meats.”
Reason being, the committee tied meat production to environmental impact.
That should have set off explosions across the industry, but various news reports have estimated that only 8,000 or so comments were received.
I’ve got a comment about that total: It’s pathetic. About 10 times that number would have been more appropriate.
C’mon. This is the first time that the Dietary Guidelines, should they be issued along the lines the Advisory Committee recommended, would officially demonize animal foods. Despite tap dancing around the wordsmithing, the message would be clear: Meat is bad for you and bad for the environment. Stop eating it — and all other animal foods, by the way, because if you buy into the argument that raising livestock is destroying the environment, then dairy foods or eggs are no better than beef, pork or poultry.
That is an absolute frontal assault on the foundations of diet and nutrition and food production, and it should be alarming to everyone in animal agriculture.
Don’t think the opponents of meat-eating aren’t already planning to gain serious traction once the final Guidelines are released.
Consider the wording of a letter written to the committee by a coalition of some 20 “plant-based food companies,” the so-called tofurkey lobby:
“We support the [Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee]’s assessment that the overall body of evidence identifies a healthy dietary pattern as one that is higher in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, lower in red and processed meats and low in sugar-sweetened foods and drinks and refined grains. We strongly support the DGAC in concluding that higher intakes of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and lower intakes of added sugars, saturated fat, sodium, and red and processed meats reduce the risk of chronic diseases, including cancer, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.”
Do you see the approach here? First, list all the positives: more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, etc., etc. We’ve been told that by parents, teachers, and nutritionists our whole lives. Nothing new there.
But step two is to list all the negatives: “Sugar, saturated fat and red and processed meat.” All the bad guys we’ve also been told to avoid for the last 50 years.
That’s a straight up attempt to make believe that meat has the nutritional status of junk food and the eco-impact of pesticides.
A phobia for fat
For anyone who clings to the belief that would never be shoved meat off the menu, consider this excerpt from HHS’s website entitled “A Healthier You — Based on the Dietary Guidelines:”
“Food is part of our social fabric. It’s one way we pass traditions down from generation to generation and sometimes preserve our cultural identities. We hear stories from people talking about how food is part of their heritage. The secret ingredient in Nana’s strudel is ‘love’ to be sure, but there’s also ‘lard’ in that strudel!”
Lard! Good lord! Take a tiny bite of Nana’s strudel if you must, but understand that it’s loaded with lard!
That is a travesty. Lard is nothing more than purified pork fat, and it was a staple ingredient in cooking and baking for several centuries before anyone even knew how to spell obesity, much less try to figure out ways to overcome it.
The idea that animal foods, especially its natural component of fat, is harmful is a perversion of tradition and common sense. How many millennia of experience do we need, how many dozens of cultures must we examine and how many different mountains of scientific evidence do we need to analyze before we put to rest the notion that raising, harvesting, processing livestock and consuming the products that result is normal, natural and necessary?
By the way? That was a rhetorical question.
The Dietary Gurus with their lofty credentials would have Americans believe that Nana’s cooking is unhealthy, an indulgence that is bad news, but like an obnoxious uncle, something that can be tolerated in small doses, you know, for the sake of family harmony.
“There are ways to make a healthier lifestyle doable and still enjoy at the reunion,” according to HHS.
Yeah, it’s called eat a healthy diet based on animal foods and get your butt up off the couch.
It doesn’t take a PhD in dietetics to figure that out.
Dan Murphy is a food-industry journalist and commentator