A recent study by the Humane Research Council found that 84% of vegetarians and vegans eventually return to eating meat. What’s more, 35% of participants in the study cited declining health as the main reason for adding animal proteins back into their diets.
This is interesting information considering the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) has proposed to drop red meat from the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The recommendations are updated every five years, and the current proposed version is advising against red meat consumption for a multitude of misguided reasons including a fear of saturated fat, the misconception that meat production is bad for the environment, and the notion that eating meat isn’t sustainable for future generations.
The Washington Post recently published an update from the DGAC that shared the committee’s intentions to withdraw from the 2015 recommendations its longstanding warnings about cholesterol.
According to the article written by Peter Whoriskey, “The nation’s top nutrition advisory panel has decided to drop its caution about eating cholesterol-laden food, a move that could undo almost 40 years of government warnings about its consumption. The group’s finding that cholesterol in the diet need no longer be considered a ‘nutrient of concern’ stands in contrast to the committee’s findings five years ago, the last time it convened. During those proceedings, as in previous years, the panel deemed the issue of excess cholesterol in the American diet a public health concern.
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“The finding follows an evolution of thinking among many nutritionists who now believe that, for healthy adults, eating foods high in cholesterol may not significantly affect the level of cholesterol in the blood or increase the risk of heart disease. The greater danger in this regard, these experts believe, lies not in products such as eggs, shrimp or lobster, which are high in cholesterol, but in too many servings of foods heavy with saturated fats, such as fatty meats, whole milk, and butter.”
Apparently, eggs, shrimp and lobster are OK, but the demon lies in red meat and dairy. They are really throwing the baby out with the bathwater here, as there’s plenty of research that shows saturated fats from meat, dairy and eggs are actually good for us. In addition, they provide much-needed fuel, satiety and the nutrients to get us through our days.
Just ask Nina Teicholz, author of “Big Fat Surprise.” She believes USDA has it totally wrong on saturated fats. In fact, in a recent exclusive interview with BEEF magazine, she encouraged beef producers to get involved in the fight and lobby against the proposed changes to the dietary guidelines.
Furthermore, Teicholz says trans-fats, not saturated fats, are the big health concern. In a column for Tips on Healthy Living, she writes, “For more than 60 years, Americans have been told to eat polyunsaturated vegetable oils instead of saturated fats. This advice has been based on the simple reality that vegetable oils lower total cholesterol (and LDL cholesterol, too, as later discovered). The fact that vegetable oils also create toxic oxidation products when heated and trigger inflammatory effects linked to heart disease, are, it seems, less important to mainstream nutrition experts, whose focus hasn’t wavered from cholesterol.
“The solution may be to return to stable, solid animal fats, like lard and butter, which don’t contain any mystery isomers or clog up cell membranes, as trans fats do, and don’t oxidize, as do liquid oils. Saturated fats, which also raise HDL-cholesterol, start to look like a rather good alternative from this perspective.”
Apparently, the scientific evidence isn’t compelling enough for this committee, which appears to have a vegetarian agenda behind its recommendations to cut red meat from the diet. But many Americans are waking up to the healthfulness of red meat. For instance, what do former president Bill Clinton, musicians Ozzy Osbourne and Justin Bieber, and actors such as Anne Hathaway and Rachel McAdams have in common? The Facts About Beef blog says all these folks have returned to eating meat after following vegetarian or vegan diets. Plus, they all say they feel great after adding animal proteins and fats back into their diets!
How about athletes like Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Ray Allen, Dwane Wade, and Lebron James? These NBA stars have upped their game, lost some pounds and reduced stress on their knees by following a low-carb, high-fat and protein diet. Even First Lady Michelle Obama praised them for being good role models for kids by following a healthy diet, which is somewhat confusing considering her national campaign has greatly limited animal protein on school menus. However, that’s an issue for another blog post.
The reasons to include red meat -- and all of the healthy saturated fats and protein we derive from food like beef -- are numerous. We must urge USDA, Congress, President Obama, and the DGAC to wise up. Cutting red meat from the diet will be disastrous for America’s health. Beef really is one of those foods that not only tastes good but is good for you.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of Beefmagazine.com or the Penton Farm Progress Group.
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