Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, January 7, 2016

Contact: Stephanie Feldstein, (734) 395-0770,

New Dietary Guidelines Ignore Calls for Less Meat, More Plant-based Food

WASHINGTON— The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans released today ignore the recommendations of the scientific advisory panel and an unprecedented show of public support for clear guidance on food choices that are better for public health and the environment, specifically by excluding a call for Americans to reduce meat consumption and eat more plant-based foods.

“Americans urgently need dietary guidance that’s better for our health, for the environment and the future of food security, and the new dietary guidelines utterly fail to provide that,” said Stephanie Feldstein, population and sustainability director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The majority of the meaningful recommendations of the scientific advisory panel were left on the cutting room floor and replaced by the same outdated, vague advice.”

The Scientific Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee released last year clearly stated that “the major findings regarding sustainable diets were that a diet higher in plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and lower in calories and animal-based foods is more health promoting and is associated with less environmental impact than is the current U.S. diet.”

Following the scientific report’s release, there was an unprecedented outpouring of public attention and support for the committee’s recommendations, including a joint statement from more than 100 environmental and health experts, a petition organized by 12 groups with more than 150,000 signatures, a letter of support from more than 700 health professionals and 29,000 public comments – more than any previous dietary guidelines – with 75 percent in support of the sustainability and health recommendations.

“The administration says that the guidelines were developed from the scientific advisory panel’s recommendations and input from experts and the public, but it’s clear that the meat industry and other special interests had more influence than anyone else,” said Feldstein. “Demand for sustainable diets has been skyrocketing. With this misguided document, the administration risks irrelevancy as health professionals, food service providers, restaurants and the public increasingly choose foods that are healthier for themselves and the planet.”

The “key recommendations” in the new dietary guidelines include limiting consumption of added sugars, saturated fat and protein, plus moderation in consuming alcohol, but do not call for limiting, moderating or reducing meat and dairy consumption. The guidelines also do not include information on the environmental impact of dietary choices, though a legal analysis found that it would have been well within the scope of the dietary guidelines process to include sustainability as recommended by the advisory panel.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, updated every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, are a government-approved blueprint for healthy diets and are widely used in nutrition education programs and to set the meal plans for government institutions, including schools, prisons, military facilities and federal cafeterias. This is the first time sustainability considerations were included in the scientific report used to inform the final guidelines.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Go back