A new federal report points to the environmental benefits of a vegan diet, and the meat industry is not exactly happy about it. Industry representatives say sustainability isn't within the purview of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, whose recommendations factor into guidelines by the federal agriculture and health departments, the Hill reports. "The same concern would exist if an expert sustainability committee were making nutrition policy recommendations," says a rep for the North American Meat Institute. "It is not appropriate for the person designing a better light bulb to be telling Americans how to make a better sandwich."
Indeed, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack seemed to agree in an interview last month with the Wall Street Journal, the Hill notes. "I read the actual law," he noted. "Our job ultimately is to formulate dietary and nutrition guidelines." But earlier this year, the committee noted a need to address the "complete challenge" in order "to ensure a healthy food supply will be available for future generations," the Journal reported. The chair of the committee also points out that the committee outlines three separate diets, with one vegetarian-focused, one Mediterranean, and one American. "If people took the time to understand, this is not a meat-free diet and this is not [a] vegan approach," she tells the Hill. "They'd realize this is a healthy dietary pattern with three models that offers consumers a lot of choice." The group is accepting public comment until next month. (Read more American Meat Institute stories.)