Fruit and Vegetable Subsidies could Save Lives

We've all heard the common excuse: "I can't go vegan; it's too expensive!" Consumers tend to favor the convenience of fast food and other processed products laden with meat and dairy. If these foods are so taxing on natural resources, how are they so cheap?

The US government spends $38 billion each year to subsidize the meat and dairy industries, but only 0.04% of that to subsidize fruits and vegetables.

Meat and dairy subsidies goes directly to large corporations rather than small farmers, spurring the growth of factory farms (PETA).

This is clearly an issue from an ethical standpoint...but what about from a health standpoint? Through dietary guidelines and campaigns, the USDA urges us to eat more meat and dairy, leading to an abundance of health problems like cardiovascular disease and cancer. In short, handing out money to animal agriculture is killing us. 

According to VegNews, a new study published in medical journal PLOS Medicine found that making fruit and vegetables cheaper would save 150,500 American lives by 2030. Compared to a 10% soda tax, a 10% produce subsidy would be five times more effective at preventing or postponing death, according to their findings. This 10% subsidy would also increase fruit and vegetable consumption by 14%, thereby reducing animal product consumption.

The notion that animal foods are more affordable ignores the fact that our tax dollars fund animal agriculture. In the pet food industry, the price difference between animal-based and plant-based ingredients is blown even further out of proportion. Animal byproducts used in pet food are merely waste from the already subsidized slaughterhouse industry. Plant foods, in comparison, appear expensive.

With the vegan movement gaining momentum due to health and ethical concerns, doctors are increasingly recommending a plant-based diet. The demand for meat and dairy is declining, but will the government catch on or continue to fund these detrimental industries?

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Sources: PETA; VegNews; PLOS Medicine

Images: nutritionstudies.orgrsvlts.com; cnn.com


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