‘Beans Not Beef’: U.S. Physicians Ask For Government To Focus On Plant-Based Foods To Tackle Climate Crisis
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The nonprofit doctors group Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine(PCRM) has petitioned the White House to make changes to its executive order ‘Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad’ in order to put forward policy changes that could help in improving the health of people by reducing animal agriculture practices and focussing on a plant-based diet that will help mitigate the effects of climate change.
To drive the message home and promote the health of the planet as well as the people, the doctors’ group demonstrated at the National park in April, an official unit of the U.S National Park System, with bags of beans spelling out the message “Beans Not Beef”.
The White House’s executive order has a National Climate Task Force that included the secretary of agriculture, Tom Vilsack and the PCRM’s petition asks the House to include directives for the U.S. Department of Agriculture(USDA), as well as the addition of how switching to a plant-based diet, can have several positive impacts on the environment that are listed in in the 2025-2030 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and propose a plan to ditch subsidies for animal-based products and instead direct them to fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans.
In a letter to the USDA dated April 20th, the director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee, Susan Levin, MS, wrote: “I am writing today out of concern for the environment, a concern I know you share. While we are pleased that the Biden administration has already taken initial steps in this important area, the role of dietary contributors to climate change remains neglected. A report published in The Lancet in 2019 concluded that a dietary shift toward plant foods and away from animal products is vital for promoting the health of our planet.”
While we are pleased that the Biden administration has already taken initial steps in this important area, the role of dietary contributors to climate change remains neglected. A report published in The Lancet in 2019 concluded that a dietary shift toward plant foods and away from animal products is vital for promoting the health of our planetSusan Levin, MS, director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee
Levin added: “In 2015, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommended a shift away from animal products toward plant-based diets for sustainability. The committee stated that “a dietary pattern that is higher in plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and lower in animal-based foods is more health promoting and is associated with lesser environmental impact (GHG emissions and energy, land, and water use) than is the current average U.S. diet..”
If beef were to be swapped for beans, this could hugely benefit the U.S. as it would be able to achieve its targeted GHGs reductions and with researchers comparing the simulated net emissions released from legume production and subtracting it from average beef production rates, with U.S. reduction goals for 2020 as a reference, the result highlights that substituting legumes for beef has the potential to account for 46%-74% of the needed reductions.
In another new study, scientists urge E.U. to focus on producing more legumes like beans, peas and lentils that will help pave the way forward for a sustainable and nutritious food system.
In addition to this, studies have shown that beans are favourable for lowering risks of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
According to another study, consuming plant-based foods like berries and green leafy vegetables in large quantities can improve the heart’s function and your cognitive health and at the same time can slow down heart failure and lower the risk of dementia especially that given that heart failure affects more than 6.5 million adults in the U.S.alone and over 26 million across the globe.
Furthermore, a study by the National Cancer Institute in the U.S. highlighted findings that showed an “inverse association” between increased consumption of plant-based foods and heart disease mortality rates, and that animal-based diets can lead to increased risks of ischaemic heart disease, diverticular disease, pneumonia, colon polyps, and diabetes.
Plant-based diets often fare well in research for their environmentally friendliness. A recent study drew attention to the fact that such diets have a low carbon footprint with experts going one step ahead and warning that if animal-based diets aren’t ditched, the emissions released from these foods will put the Paris agreement goals far away from our reach.
Lead image courtesy of PCRM.