This September, the White House is set to hold its first conference on hunger, nutrition, and health in more than 50 years. Activists believe this is the ideal opportunity for the Biden administration to acknowledge the health benefits of a plant-based diet.
The Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health is critically important. It could influence the US’ approach to diet and nutrition for the coming decades. (The last event of this nature was held in 1969 and went on to shape food policy for more than 50 years.)
President Biden and his government have set several targets around improving nutrition and ending hunger in the US by 2030. These are urgent issues: the USDA reports that nearly 40 million people living in the country suffer from food insecurity.
Poverty rates are higher among communities of color, due to ingrained systemic racism, notes Feeding America. To end hunger, structural inequality needs to be addressed at the root.
But the White House’s promotion of plant-based living could still have a positive impact in the US.
A number of studies have suggested that cutting out meat and dairy can support good health.
For example, a recent Oxford University found that a meat-free diet could reduce cancer risk by 14 percent. Last year, more research found that following a whole-food, plant-based diet may reduce the risk of cognitive impairment. Another 2021 study found that a plant-based diet may slash the risk of stroke by up to 10 percent.
‘Critically important’ shift
Animal rights organization Mercy for Animals is urging the White House to back plant-based diets at the upcoming nutrition conference.
In a statement, the nonprofit’s federal policy manager Frances Chrzan said: “We are thrilled that the Biden-Harris Administration will host this important conference at a time when consumers, researchers, and health officials alike are embracing and espousing the benefits of a plant-based diet.”
The nonprofit is also encouraging Biden’s administration to give more support to small-scale farmers. It is also urging the government to acknowledge the detrimental environmental impact of animal agriculture.
“Much has changed over the last five decades in our knowledge of how critically important a plant-based food system can be for providing Americans sufficient daily nutrients as well as protecting the environment for future generations,” continued Chrzan.
“As the Biden-Harris administration prepares for the Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health, Mercy For Animals hopes to see a recommendation for increasing access to plant-based foods to address the health of people and our planet.”