Harvard Law School Urges USDA to Link Meat and Disease

The Ivy League school asked the government agency to examine how meat consumption leads to illness before compiling its forthcoming Dietary Guidelines.

Several groups submitted comments to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) last month that urged the governmental body to consider the link between the consumption of animal products and the prevalence of disease ahead of its formulation of the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines. “What is the relationship between red and processed meat consumption and the risk of cardiovascular disease; risk of cancer; body weight and obesity; and type 2 diabetes?” the Food Law and Policy Clinic of Harvard Law School inquired. Animal-rights organization Animal Legal Defense Fund submitted its own comment to urge the USDA to differentiate between a vegetarian and a vegan diet (as the group stated that they are not nutritionally similar) and to remove the claim that animal meat and dairy is essential to a healthy diet. The United States Cattlemen’s Association and the National Milk Producers Federation submitted comments that promoted the health benefits of the products they produce, despite the fact that scientific studies—including research presented last month at an American Heart Association conference that linked the consumption of animal-derived fats to premature death—continue to connect the consumption of animal products with increased risk of contracting illnesses such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The Dietary Guidelines—compiled every five years by a specially appointed committee—are used by governmental agencies, educational centers, and consumers as a resource for promoting optimal nutrition.

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