New dietary guidelines being considered by the Agricultural Department take into consideration “environmental cost.”

The USDA’s recommendations eventually trickle down into school lunches and other federal programs. Every five years the USDA updates their dietary guidelines. Remember when we lost the iconic food pyramid to the “My Plate” thing? That was all the USDA’s doing.

And we all know how well it goes when government restrictions end up on school lunch plates

According to the AP:

That means that when the latest version of the government’s dietary guidelines comes out, it may push even harder than it has in recent years for people to choose more fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and other plant-based foods — at the expense of meat.

The beef and agriculture industries are crying foul, saying an environmental agenda has no place in what has always been a practical blueprint for a healthy lifestyle.

The advisory panel has been discussing the idea of sustainability in public meetings, indicating that its recommendations, expected early this year, may address the environment. A draft recommendation circulated last month said a sustainable diet helps ensure food access for both the current population and future generations.

A dietary pattern higher in plant-based foods 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 draft said.

But what about the beef?

That appears to take at least partial aim at the beef industry. A study by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last year said raising beef for the American dinner table is more harmful to the environment than other meat industries such as pork and chicken.

The study said that compared with other popular animal proteins, beef produces more heat-trapping gases per calorie, puts out more water-polluting nitrogen, takes more water for irrigation and uses more land.

In response, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association sent out a statement by doctor and cattle producer Richard Thorpe calling the committee biased and the meat recommendation absurd. He said lean beef has a role in healthy diets.

Also unimpressed? Congress.

Objections are coming from Congress, too.

A massive year-end spending bill enacted last month noted the advisory committee’s interest in the environment and directed Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack “to only include nutrition and dietary information, not extraneous factors” in final guidelines. Congress often uses such non-binding directions to put a department on notice that lawmakers will push back if the executive branch moves forward.

Who knew farm animals and other livestock that have all sustained mankind since there was a “mankind” are actually bad for the planet?

I would ask what environmentalists will come up with next, but I’m not sure I really want to know.

(h/t The Pirate Cove)

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