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Supporting 2015 Sustainable Dietary Guidelines

News Section Icon Published 3/25/2015

This week, Compassion in World Farming presented oral testimony to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in support of the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Every five years, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans are updated to reflect current scientific and medical knowledge.  

For the first time, the proposed Dietary Guidelines include sustainability considerations, recommending a diet with more plant based foods and fewer animal products. Compassion in World Farming fully supports the recommendations as part of our mission towards a more fair, humane, and sustainable food and farming system. The sustainability provisions not only support better health, but also carry benefits for global resource use and environmental impact.

As part of our oral presentation, we testified "33% of the world’s cereal harvest and 97% of the world’s soymeal is used as animal feed. Yet research shows for every 100 calories that we feed to animals in the form of crops, we receive on average just 30 calories in the form of meat and milk."1,2

Furthermore, "A UNEP report calculates that if the cereals expected to be fed to livestock by 2050 were instead used to feed people directly, it would provide the necessary food energy for more than 3.5 billion people."3

In regard to greenhouse gas emissions related to climate change, a 2014 University of Oxford study showed greenhouse gas emissions attributable to the diets of meat eaters were double those of vegans.4

There is overwhelming evidence to support the guidelines outlined by the DGAC. We applaud their efforts, and are joined by many other environmental, human health, and animal protection organizations in supporting a sustainable food future. 

We joined over 100 organizations, experts, and prominent individuals in signing an open letter to Secretaries Burwell and Vilsack urging support for the inclusion sustainability considerations in the final 2015 Dietary Guidelines. The full page ad was published in the NY Times, Washington Post, and Politico on March 24, 2015, the day of the public meeting.

The public has until May 8 to submit comments to the USDA and HHS to be taken into consideration when finalizing the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Find out more:

Sources:
1. Trostle, R., 2008. USDA ERS May/July 2008. Global agricultural supply and demand: factors contributing to the recent increase in food commodity prices
2. Lundqvist, J., de Fraiture, C. Molden, D., 2008. SIWI Policy Brief. SIWI. http://www.siwi.org/documents/Resources/Policy_Briefs/PB_From_Filed_to_Fork_2008.pdf. Saving Water: From Field to Fork – Curbing Losses and Wastage in the Food Chain.
3. UK Government Office for Science, 2011. The future of food and farming: challenges and choices for global sustainability: executive summary.
4. Scarborough P. et al, 2014. Dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the UK. Climatic Change (2014) 125:179–192 DOI 10.1007/s10584-014-1169-1.