Less meat

This might be encouraging:

A panel that advises the US Agriculture Department appears set to recommend that Americans be told not only what foods are better for their health, but also for the environment.

That means that when the latest version of its dietary guidelines comes out, the government 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.

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 US diet,’’ the draft said.

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.

but it’s unlikely to actually happen since:

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 nonbinding directions to put a department on notice that lawmakers will push back if the executive branch moves forward.

Sure, beef (and most meats in general) might be less healthy and worse for the environment but that ‘s no reason we should push people to eat less meat.

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