The guidelines are issued by the US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services and serve as a guide for any nutritional initiatives like public school lunches, etc. The guidelines are updated every five years; these guidelines were just issued last week.
It is a big step forward to have the federal government acknowledging the health benefits of a plant-based diet. The guidelines include the following: “Vegetarian-style eating patterns have been associated with improved health outcomes — lower levels of obesity, a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, and lower total mortality. Several clinical trials have documented that vegetarian eating patterns lower blood pressure.”
The guidelines contain warnings about obesity and an overconsumption of saturated fat which have been mainstay concerns for health care providers and the federal government for years. However, while the guidelines do have a lot of positive things to say about plant-based diets for those who choose them, they don’t actually make a formal recommendation for everyone to stop eating meat.
We have to remember the lobbies of the animal agriculture industry, of course.
Neal Barnard, the president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, criticized the fact that the guidelines speak in specifics when discussing things to eat more of like fruits and vegetables, but they speak in technical terms when discussing foods to eat less of like meats and cheeses, instead they use the warnings about “saturated fat” and “cholesterol.”
Barnard thinks this coded language is a result of the government’s fear of upsetting food producers.
Although it might be surprising that the government is finally coming around and acknowledging the enormous health benefits of a plant-based diet, the evidence has been around for years. Vegans have a lower occurrence of almost all cancers and heart disease. A vegan diet excludes you from the huge amount of antibiotics being pumped into livestock to promote growth.
The writing has been on the wall for years and the federal government is finally opening its eyes. If you want to lower your chance of cancer, heart disease and obesity, make the transition to a vegan diet. It might be the smartest decision you ever make.
Photo: Pam Brophy