Cow meat is the worst food for the planet, a panel of leading nutritionists has concluded.
The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee in the US made the claim after consulting two sustainability experts and reviewing previous scientific research.
“Beef was the single food with the greatest projected impact on the environment,” the committee’s report said.
The vegan diet also is the healthiest for your body, the committee said.
Veganism has the “lowest estimated impact in resources and ecosystem quality” because it was low in meat and dairy and other high-impact products.
In addition to beef, seafood, soft drink, sugary foods, refined grains and alcohol have a significantly detrimental impact on the environment.
Everyone should eat less red and processed meat and more vegetables and nuts, the nutritionists advised.
The meat industry in the US has criticised the report, arguing the panel did not have the requisite expertise to evaluate environmental impacts.
As noted above, the committee relied on sustainability experts and previous studies.
Industry groups have also contradicted the panel’s health claims, arguing the protein in meat helps people stick to their diets by making them feel fuller for longer.
Seventy-one right-wing Republican politicians have protested the report, signing a letter saying the committee “greatly exceeded their scope”.
“It is the responsibility of the secretaries to ensure that this advisory committee stay focused on nutritional recommendations and not the wider policy realm of sustainability and tax policy, in which members of this committee had neither expertise, evidence, nor charter,” the letter said.
The US health department may or may not include any or all of the committee’s recommendations in its official health guidelines for 2015.