Move Over Meat Lobby: There’s a New Plant-Based Powerhouse in Town

Heavyweight trade associations for the meat, dairy, and egg industries have long wielded powerful influence in our nation’s capital, warping federal food policies from school meals to food stamps. But just in time for the meat-versus-veg food fight over the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a new player has come on the scene—armed with the power of plants.

Politico and the International Business Times report that plant-based food companies such as Field Roast, Tofurky, Daiya, and Follow Your Heart have joined forces to urge federal policymakers to help Americans swap beef for beans, turkey for tempeh, chicken for chickpeas, and other meat and dairy products for healthful, vegetarian foods.

We caught up with the coalition’s organizer, Eat Drink Politics president and food attorney, Michele Simon, to ask her about the new group.

Q: First, tell us about the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). Are they really worth fighting over? Why should we care?

A: The guidelines are a critical educational tool and a source of government-issued material about nutrition (we’ve all heard of the food pyramid, which is now “MyPlate). The government also uses the DGA as the basis for nutrition standards for important federal programs such as school meals. The meat, dairy, and egg industries certainly think they are important.

Q: Why is this coalition needed, and what is its role in influencing the DGA?

A: With consumers shifting away from meat and dairy towards healthier options, the plant food industry has matured to the point where it deserves a seat at the table right along every other sector and trade group in Washington.

Q: Are you trying to pick a fight with the meat industry?

A: Certainly not; this is about defending science and leveling the playing field. Right now, the scientific recommendations to eat less red and processed meat are under severe attack by the meat lobby. These plant food companies are entitled to have their voices heard to support the strong scientific evidence in favor of a plant-based diet over one that is meat-centered.

Q: What does the future hold for this group?

A: The next step is to create a trade group that supports the interests of this growing food sector, to break down regulatory barriers and expand markets for plant-based foods. The positive benefits are incredibly far-ranging. It’s an idea whose time has come and I am excited to help take this effort to the next level.

Q: What can MFA supporters do to help?

A: Speak up! Submit comments about the DGA here until May 8. Find talking points to include in your comments in this MFA blog post, and learn more about the coalition here: