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USDA: Adopt Dietary Guidelines that Prioritize the Environment!

USDA: Adopt Dietary Guidelines that Prioritize the Environment!

Take a stand for the planet, add your name to demand that US government agency leaders stand strong on the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s recommendation to factor the environmental impact of our food choices. The government issues dietary guidelines every five years to encourage Americans to eat healthier. In the face of intense industry pushback, for the first time ever, this year’s version could urge people to choose more fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and other plant-based foods — and less meat.


Dear President Obama, Secretary Vilsack and Secretary Burwell,

We urge you to support the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s recommendation to include sustainability considerations in the 2015 dietary guidelines. The committee’s review of scientific evidence found that a diet higher in plant-based foods and lower in animal-based foods is more health promoting and is associated with less environmental impact than the current U.S. diet, writing that “Linking health, dietary guidance, and the environment will promote human health and the sustainability of natural resources and ensure current and long-term food security.”

As the committee pointed out, there is a strong body of scientific evidence indicating that a diet with less meat and more plant based foods is better for our health and the health of the planet. Heavy meat consumption, especially red and processed meat, is associated with increased risks of costly diet-related disease (heart disease, diabetes and some cancers), while a range of plant-based diets are associated with a lower risk of these diseases. Industrial meat production requires large quantities of water and energy-intensive inputs (e.g. pesticides, fertilizers and fuel), pollutes our air, land and water and generates large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions.

How food is produced also has a big impact on public health and the environment. More sustainable, organic, humane and agroecological food production methods that do not rely on the routine use antibiotics, hormones, chemical fertilizers and toxic pesticides, can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase climate resiliency, protect natural resources and enhance soil quality, biodiversity, and pollinator health. These practices also contribute to better public health, including healthier conditions for workers.

As Americans, we rely on our government to provide accurate, science-based information that promotes both short-term health and the long-term health of our families and our environment. Please include sustainability and clear dietary recommendations for reduced consumption of animal products and more plant-based foods in the 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines.

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