2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans Released; Has Both Positive and Negative Features

Vegetarian Dieting Blogs

By Reed Mangels, PhD, RD

Dietary Guidelines for Americans is a document that
is produced every 5 years and serves as a statement of current federal policy
on the role of dietary factors in health promotion and disease prevention. It
is used as the foundation for federal nutrition education materials, by
schools, the food industry, and many others. During the process of updating the
Dietary Guidelines, the USDA and the
Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) appoint a committee of
scientists to review current scientific evidence related to diet and to create
an extensive scientific report. Interested groups and individuals comment on
the scientific report. This report is used to inform the Dietary Guidelines which are written by the staff of the USDA and

     The latest
edition of the Dietary Guidelines was
released in December 2020. This edition is the first to include recommendations
for the entire life-span, from birth through older adulthood.

As was true of the previous edition, the most recent Dietary Guidelines endorses “a healthy vegetarian dietary pattern” as one of three dietary patterns that can “be tailored to meet cultural and personal preferences.” There are versions of this plan for ages 1 year and older. The text of the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines reminds vegetarians and others eating few animal products to consider use of a vitamin B12 supplement. The Guidelines also encourage all Americans to eat more plant foods including dried beans, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts. These are all positive features.

     This edition of
the Dietary Guidelines has been
faulted for not addressing sustainability or greenhouse gas emissions; both of
these issues affect human health and are connected to food production and
dietary choices. Additionally, the recommendations by the Scientific Advisory
Committee to reduce added sugar consumption to 6% of calories and limit daily
alcohol consumption to one drink per day for men and women appear to have been
ignored in the text developed by the USDA and DHHS. Added sugar is capped at
10% of calories as it was in the earlier edition and daily alcohol consumption
limits are still two drinks a day for men and one for women. 

     Another issue
with the latest Dietary Guidelines is
that they continue to promote a “Dairy Group” even though this group now
includes fortified soymilk.  Another name
would more clearly indicate that this group includes something other than dairy
products. All of the Vegetarian Dietary Patterns call for use of eggs with no
suggestions for vegan foods that could replace eggs. The VRG will continue to
advocate for changes to future Dietary
to make them vegan-friendly.

U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health
and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th
Edition. December 2020. Available at DietaryGuidelines.gov.

You can read VRG’s comments on the Scientific Report of
the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory

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