Nonprofit physicians group supports ‘beans over beef’ in Nebraska

Good News Notes:

“The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is launching a campaign in Nebraska, asking the state Department of Health and Human Services in a request filed Friday, to help the state transition to what the doctors believe is cleaner, safer food, and to have meatpacking facilities produce plant-based proteins.

It is also sponsoring two billboards in Lincoln that address Gov. Pete Ricketts. One at 25th and Randolph streets and the other at 1501 South St. will be installed this week. They are positioned close to both the Governor’s Mansion and the state Capitol and will remain until Dec. 20.

The message on the billboards: ‘Governor Ricketts: Can Nebraska Switch to a Safer Food Supply Like Beans Over Beef?!’

Ricketts commented Monday at a news conference on the campaign, saying there isn’t a more nutritionally dense food source than beef, the state’s largest industry, and he doesn’t support the physicians’ campaign to switch to beans and plant-based products.

It would take three cups of quinoa or lentils to get the same nutritional value from three ounces of beef, which is a part of an overall healthy diet, he said.

The organization said protein sources go beyond beef, pork and poultry. It would like to see the state consider offering grants, tax credits and other incentives to companies producing plant-based protein products such as veggie dogs and veggie deli slices.

Advocates for eating beef in Nebraska say beef has unique nutritional benefits that can improve diet quality for many people. It is a food high in protein, selenium, vitamin B12, phosphorus and zinc, and a good source of niacin, riboflavin, iron and vitamin B6.

In February, the organization said, great northern bean and popcorn production accounted for two of the four products for which Nebraska is rated first in the USDA’s national rankings.

In response to the popularity of plant-based diets, Smithfield, Tyson Foods and other large meat companies are launching production of plant-based sausage and other products, the organization said.

Nebraska physicians Amanda McKinney and Jean L. Grem submitted the request to HHS.

In an interview, McKinney, an obstetrician-gynecologist with a specialty in lifestyle medicine, who practiced in Beatrice for at least 10 years and is the associate dean of health sciences at Doane University, said there are many benefits to plant-based eating. But there’s not a well-put-together message coming from the medical community about it.

The American College of Lifestyle Medicine is working to give practitioners ways to talk to patients about how the diet can reverse chronic disease, and how to get started and stay with it.

‘It’s such a departure from the way most people eat that they have to learn how to shop, they have to learn how to cook … what to do when they eat out,’ she said.

The number of practitioners incorporating it into their practices is growing, McKinney said. It’s just hard when doctors aren’t trained in nutrition and how to use it for prevention and reversal of chronic disease.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a nonprofit, has worked through 12,000 doctors and other health practitioners nationwide to emphasize prevention of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and cancer with plant-based diets. It also has worked 35 years to search for alternatives to the use of animals in medical education and research and for more effective scientific methods.

Its research views prompted criticism in the 1990s from the American Medical Association, although the committee’s leader, Dr. Neal Barnard, has said those disagreements with the AMA are in the past.”

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Originally published at on November 25, 2020.



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