Study: Mounting Evidence Supports Eating Less Meat for Health of People, Planet

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5, 2016 – A new systematic review of dietary patterns and sustainability published in the latest edition of Advances in Nutrition provides additional evidence that diets lower in animal-based foods and higher in plant-based foods are better for the health of people and the planet. The review highlights the urgency of addressing sustainability in national food policy as a matter of food security: “Long-term food security can be ensured only if we consider the sustainability of our food supply now.”

The review was conducted by Miriam Nelson, a leading expert on nutrition and sustainability and director of the Sustainability Institute at the University of New Hampshire, along with other members of, and consultants to, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. It identifies eight more studies that support the health and environmental benefits of sustainable diets, on top of the 15 studies included in the committee’s original systematic review, strengthening the conclusions of the committee report even further.

“The evidence overwhelmingly points to one clear solution: We need to eat less meat and dairy,” said Stephanie Feldstein, population and sustainability director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This growing body of research shows that we can’t afford to wait for national food policies that help educate Americans on sustainable diets and ensure that healthy, nutritious food is widely available and affordable.”

Sustainability concerns and the recommendation to eat less meat and more plant-based foods were not included in the final 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, following intense pressure from the livestock industry. This omission came despite the strong evidence presented by the guidelines committee, along with widespread support from environmental, public-health and animal-protection organizations and experts, as well as an unprecedented 29,000 public comments.

“The collective health of our environment, the American people and our food system is at stake,” said Feldstein. “It’s time for our elected officials to stop letting special interests dictate policies that determine how informed Americans make food choices. We need our leaders to create policies in the interest of a healthy, sustainable and secure food system.”

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