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USDA School-lunch Contest's Glaring Omission? Meat

The USDA has launched a school-lunch contest and beef industry is none too happy about it. Should the call for recipes have included lean meats?

The USDA recently announced a school-lunch contest of their own, as part of Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign to combat childhood obesity. The categories: "Whole Grains, Dark Green and Orange vegetables, or Dry Beans and Peas." Notice anything missing? That's right: meat.

It's been a big month for plant-based diets. First, Bill Clinton credited his almost-vegan diet as the reason for his dropping so much weight and then the newly proposed USDA dietary guidelines emphasized plant-based eating as well. Now the idea that we should all eat more fruits, vegetables, legumes, and beans is making its way into our schools. (Also, Meatless Mondays, anyone?)

I think this is awesome, the USDA dodging one political bullet only to be faced with another one—from the beef industry. Beef Magazine (yes, such a thing exists) ran a piece last week decrying the exclusion of meat, saying that the USDA is spreading bad ideas to the American public about meat consumption, and that Americans get 70 percent of their food from plant sources anyway. (There is simply no way that is true, however, unless we are seriously stretching what we consider to be plant-based food.)

In response, the beef industry is encouraging meat lovers to send in lean-meat-based recipes to the USDA's contest anyway, in protest. My guess is those ones get chucked and disqualified immediately.

What's your take? Should the contest have included lean-meat recipes?

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