The 90-percent-non-physician Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) is trying to ban all animal products from the federal food stamp program, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). To that end, the strict vegetarian advocates with ties to PETA are recruiting a vegan diet book author and promoting a column by the former personal trainer for The Biggest Loser, Jillian Michaels.
It was that second item that made us do a spit-take. You see, not too long ago we caught the canned co-host of The Doctors spreading myths about the tuna she ate. And at least one vegetarian web forum is peeved that Michaels isn’t a vegan advocate. Of course, PCRM is happy to tout animal-derived research findings while calling for an end to animal research, so borrowing a non-vegetarian fitness celebrity for a campaign isn’t the highest of the group’s hypocrisies.
And it’s mighty odd that a declared investor in and promoter of a reduced-fat potato chip called “Pop Chips” would be promoting a group that calls cheese “dairy crack.” Why? Four of the flavors the company sells contain dairy products. PCRM boss Neal Barnard would call those same dairy products “child abuse.”
And for all the talk of “food deserts” and how retailers must be changed, there are in fact already minimum offerings that individual retailers must provide to be eligible to accept food stamp benefits. One option is to provide all of the following four categories of food with fresh or frozen perishables in at least two: meat, poultry or fish; bread or cereal; vegetables or fruits; and dairy products. The other is to derive over half of total food and non-food sales from those foods.
What’s the result of these requirements? Healthy foods are already available to SNAP recipients, and there’s evidence that food deserts are simply a mirage.
Of course, PCRM would say that the meat, fish, and dairy options aren’t healthy but rather basically poop-covered cigarettes or something. But that’s bunk, and more people are taking notice. One blogger for National Review caught PCRM red-handed over-hyping a finding about cholesterol in chicken nuggets. Looks like McGill University’s Dr. Joe Schwarcz was right to call PCRM out in no uncertain terms: “Cherry-picking data, a common PCRM practice, does not mesh with the scientific method.”
So who benefits from adopting PCRM’s preferred SNAP diet? Not Americans who will be forced to eat the PETA diet which if improperly planned can have adverse consequences. Perhaps it will be activist multimillionaire vegetarian divorcees who give money to PCRM and PETA and own restaurants that Neal Barnard likes.