Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Wait, there's a Vice President of Meat Science?

Goddamnit, eating meat is one of the
 few things we're actually good at...
Great, like vegans needed another reason to be smug. Here, check this out. What, not enough strength in your protein-starved hands to even click on it? What? Don't look at me like that, I'm just kidding, it turns out you're probably on to something. Let me summarize: The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, a panel that advises the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human services on what we should be eating, has recommended that we eat less meat. But we love meat! you cry, possibly around a mouthful of carnitas burrito. And it's true. We Americans on average each shoved over two-hundred pounds of beef, poultry, pork and shellfish into our meat-holes last year.

So what's wrong with that? Well, probably a lot. Like, it's not always easy to dismiss the ethical issues that come along with eating meat. Even if you're humming The Circle of Life while you do it, you're still bolt-gunning a living creature and then feasting on its carcass.
On that subject, did anyone else think it was weird that the prey animals showed
up to be in the musical number about how their king will eventually kill and devour them?
"What the fuck America?"
Anyway, the DGAC's recommendations aren't based on squishy human emotions, but on science. They looked at the nation's overall eating habits and concluded that we consume way too much saturated fat, sugar and sodium and that our physical activity levels are far too low. Basically they're calling us fat and lazy and suggesting that we eat more vegetables, all of which we've heard before. What's new is that for the first time the environmental impact of meat and dairy is being factored in. Livestock requires huge amounts of water and land and produces more greenhouse gases than cars and planes combined:

"The organically grown vegan diet also had the lowest estimated impact on resources and ecosystem quality...Beef was the single food with the greatest projected impact on the environment; other foods estimated to have high impact include cheese, milk and seafood."

-The Goddamned Hippies on the 
Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee

"To blandness!"
"But...meat? I mean, meat!"
-The Meat Industry
Ok, great, so the DGAC is going to recommend less reliance on animal products and vegans, animal rights proponents and people who enjoy breathing will cheer. What's the downside? Well, people who work in the meat industry aren't super-happy with the suggestion that we eat less meat, but then they wouldn't be, would they? In fact, The North American Meat Institute is outraged at that the DGAC and their new recommendations. Their beef...damnit, I swear I didn't mean that.

Wait, so she's the Meat Veep?
Was the Meat Science President busy?
Their issue is that they don't feel the DGAC is qualified to weigh environmental data since they're just a board of medical doctors and nutritionists, and hey, what do they know?

"It is not appropriate for the person designing a better light bulb to be telling Americans how to make a better sandwich. Sustainability is a complex issue better left to those with the necessary expertise."

-Dr. Betsy Booren, Ph.D.,
North American Meat Institute's
Vice President for Scientific Affairs

Thanks a lot, asshole.
See? Outrage. They're straight-up outraged that anyone dares suggest that animal products aren't awesome. Look, far be it from me to suggest that the Meat Institute might have a pro-meat bias, but c'mon, she's hardly going to say "go try the Tofurky." Of course they're not happy with the committee's recommendations, but you don't have to be an environmental scientist to read a report about how cows are basically the new Hummer when it comes to polluting emissions and that maybe cutting back a bit is in our best interests.

Besides, DGAC isn't saying you that can't eat meat and dairy ever again, they're just recommending that we maybe try and not pack our arteries so full of foie gras and Velveeta. Not just because it's better for the environment or for animals, but because they'd rather not see us keel over in our electric shopping carts onto the cold, linoleum tile floor of the cured meats aisle at Walmart. Is that so unreasonable?
Unreasonable? No. An uphill battle? Absolutely. 

Oh and on a side note...

...if you're anything like me you're probably just glad the DGAC isn't telling us we should all be eating insects. They are, it turns out, way better for the environment, require far less water and despite being stomach-churningly disgusting, are perfectly nutritious. Although, is it me, or has there a suspicious uptick in the number of articles and organizations pushing entomophagy? Like, do they know something we don't?
Oh right, the crippling drought. Hope you like cricket satay!

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