NCBA, as a contractor to the beef checkoff, is actively monitoring and
responding to media covering a report from the EAT-Lancet Commission to
transform the food system worldwide. Authors of the report are suggesting
drastic reductions in red meat consumption, with greater emphasis on a
plant-based diet, will improve human health and the health of the planet.
During interviews on the subject, NCBA leaders disagreed with the commission’s
recommendations. Industry spokespersons are citing decades of research showing
beef promotes health and helps prevent human nutrient deficiencies. NCBA
sources point out cattle play a unique role in the food system because they
upgrade inedible plants to high-quality protein. For example, studies show 90%
of what cattle eat is forage and plant leftovers people can’t eat.
Providing further proof the beef industry is sustainable, NCBA is telling
reporters data shows the same amount of beef is produced today with one-third
fewer cattle than during the 1970s. The U.S. produces 18% of the world’s beef
with just 8% of the world’s cattle.
“Most people are already eating beef within global dietary guidelines, so we believe the biggest opportunity for a healthy, sustainable diet will come from reducing food waste, eating fewer empty calories and enjoying more balanced meals,” a statement from NCBA read.
The EAT-Lancet Commission is a collaboration between the EAT Foundation, The Lancet, Wellcome Trust and Stockholm Resilience Center. Those serving on the commission include Harvard’s Walter Willett, a long-time meat industry critic, and Marco Springmann from Oxford.