For the first time in its history, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee — the nation’s top federal nutrition panel — has recommended that Americans begin to consider the environmental impacts of their food choices, and, in particular, make conscious cuts to their overall levels of meat consumption.
In a 571-page report issued this week — despite a warning from Congress not to address issues outside of nutrition — experts urge Americans to transition toward a more plant-based diet. Red meat especially, the panel warns, is particularly harmful because of the amount of resources involved in production.
According to the report:
“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 than is the current average U.S. diet.”
The full report, available in PDF form, also highlights the dependence on salt, sugars, and saturated fats across the American diet, and called for U.S. citizens to adopt sustainable diets, “a pattern of eating that promotes health and well-being and provides food security for the present population while sustaining human and natural resources for future generations.”
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the USDA will jointly release the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015 later this year.