The departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) will use the report to develop the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These nutrition recommendations shape food choices made by millions of American children, parents, seniors, and veterans each day and guide more than $80 billion in federal spending every year.
In their findings, the Advisory Committee recommended avoiding saturated fat, cholesterol, and red and processed meat and instead focus on carbohydrate-rich plant-based foods. However, it’s important to note that the Committee failed to warn against dairy products, which is the leading source of saturated fat in the US and has been found to increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other health conditions.
The study notes, “Reduced risk of all-cause mortality was observed in several studies that examined dietary patterns without animal-products, such as those described as vegetarian, vegan, or determined by ‘plant-based’ diet indices.” It also points out a key difference from the 2015 Committee’s report, being that whole grains are now identified as being almost as beneficial as fruits and vegetables, suggesting that “these 3 plant-based food groups are fundamental constituents of a healthy dietary pattern.”
The foods we eat not only impact our health, but also the health and wellbeing of animals.
The majority of animals killed for food in the United States are raised on factory farms where they’re treated as mere machines. Factory farming evolved as a means to satisfy an ever-increasing demand for meat. However, if the USDA 2020 Nutrition Guidelines calls for an increase in plant-based proteins, the United States—which has one of the highest rates of meat consumption of any country in the world—can reduce its meat consumption and lower the overall demand for factory-farmed meat.
Once demand decreases, World Animal Protection expects that industrial animal agriculture can start being phased out, creating a shift towards farming practices that are more sustainable and kinder to animals.
Over the last few months, more than 6,000 World Animal Protection supporters urged the DGAC to reduce the amount of recommended animal-based proteins in the Nutrition Guidelines. While we applaud the DGAC for acknowledging the benefits of eating less animal products and more plant-based foods, it’s clear that there is still quite a bit of work to be done to ensure Americans have a recommended diet that’s healthful, sustainable, and improves animal welfare.