MYTH: A vegetarian diet is healthier than a diet that includes meat, milk and eggs.
FACT: Both the federal government and the American Heart Association contend that a diet containing meat, milk and eggs follows their dietary guidelines. Health benefits can be derived by non-vegetarians who follow a prudent diet that is low in fat, sodium, sugar and alcohol. Just as there are non-vegetarian diets that are unhealthy, so are there poorly planned vegetarian diets. The key to a healthy diet is moderation. One tip from Amy Barr, a registered dietitian in Boulder, Colorado, is "don't eliminate whole food groups. Don't, for example, drop dairy from your diet." "A lot of people, especially women, give up milk because they think it's fattening," says Anne Fletcher, a registered dietitian and author of Thin for Life. But milk is one of the best sources of calcium in the diet, "which is important for preventing osteoporosis and possibly for warding off colon cancer."
MYTH: By eating less meat, Americans would improve the environment and free land and resources for the production of food crops rather than animal products that could be used to feed the hungry overseas.
FACT: The optimal use of natural resources involves use of both animals and plants to produce the nutrients that humans require. For example, about half the land area of the United States is strictly grazing land – not suitable for crop production. That land would be of no use as a food resource if it were not for ruminant (four-stomach), grazing livestock. The United States has more than enough cropland to grow both feed grains and food crops.
MYTH: Corn ethanol is causing a rise in food prices.
FACT: USDA reports that raw food inputs such as corn make up only 19% of each food dollar. Even at $4 per bushel, corn costs 7 cents per pound, meaning it represents a fraction of food costs. Between 2007 and 2009, while ethanol demand had been increasing, the farm price for corn had been declining. After corn is processed into ethanol, all of the protein and nutrients are still used as food and feed.
MYTH: High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is bad for your health.
FACT: There is no nutritional benefit to replacing high fructose corn syrup with another caloric sweetener. HFCS contains no artificial ingredients and meets the FDA's requirements for use of the term "natural." The process to manufacture sugar is remarkably similar to that of high fructose corn syrup.
Sources: Soybean Checkoff, National Corn Growers Association