Previous worries about the potential dietary guidelines from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee were realized on February 19, when the DGAC released its suggestions. They called for Americans to eat less meat, watch their sodium intake, and consider the environment when choosing foods to consume.
“The overall body of evidence examined by the 2015 DGAC identifies that a healthy dietary pattern is higher in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low- or non-fat dairy, seafood, legumes, and nuts; moderate in alcohol (among adults); lower in red and processed meat; and low in sugar-sweetened foods and drinks and refined grains,” the report said.
This marks the first time the DGAC has incorporated environmental concerns in its suggestions; in particular, looking at how food production, processing, and consumption affect the environment
Reactions from the meat industry have prompted the committee to soften their approach to suggestions regarding meat, making sure to point out that lean red meats can be part of a healthy diet.
“We’re not saying that people need to become vegans,” said Miriam Nelson, a committee member and professor at Tufts University. “But we are saying that people need to eat less meat.”
The report was made public as a 571-page document encouraging the consumption of less animal-based and more plant-based foods.
Ultimately, the US Department of Agriculture decides which suggestions to adopt and which to set aside; however, traditionally, the DGAC suggestions have had a heavy influence on food policies in major institutions and schools. The USDA’s final recommendations are only produced once every five years, and will be officially released by the end of 2015. The public is invited to view and comment on the guidelines through April 8.