Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

No Meat for Two Weeks? in This Respect, Budget Sequestration Would Be Good for Us

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

No Meat for Two Weeks? in This Respect, Budget Sequestration Would Be Good for Us

Article excerpt

It sounds like a zombie apocalypse. Grocery store meat departments may soon be wiped out for weeks. But the streets won't be filled with bloody, tattered corpses limping and moaning. It will be filled with people who suddenly have amazing complexion, endless energy and healthier weight.

The Obama administration just announced a potential furlough -- due to the automatic budget "sequestration" that takes effect in March if Congress doesn't act -- that would require every meat and poultry inspector in the country to stay home for two weeks, effectively shutting down the meat industry.

On behalf of dietitians, I hope the furlough happens -- and I hope it never ends. The real savings isn't in keeping thousands of meat inspectors at home and unpaid for a few weeks -- it's in keeping meat off Americans' plates and helping them cut the meat habit.

The meat industry claims this shutdown would devastate both the industry and consumers. It's true that it would cause chaos in factory farms -- and the economies of Texas, Nebraska and Kansas may suffer the most. Texas produces much more beef than any other state, with 11.3 million cattle. Nebraska is No. 2 with 6.3 million and Kansas is No. 3 with 5.85 million.

But a meat industry shutdown would actually give consumers -- and their bodies -- a much-needed break from the foods that are causing our nation's worst health problems.

Americans are addicted to meat. The average American now eats more than 200 pounds of meat a year. This addiction results in higher rates of heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Withdrawal symptoms may include lower blood pressure, increased energy and healthy weight loss. After just a few days without meat, people will notice a profound shift and realize how easy it is to follow a meatless diet.

I predict that in two weeks or less, worker productivity would increase, gyms would be fuller and emergency rooms would have fewer visitors. …

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