Canada recommends high plant diet for health and the planet

14 Jul 2017

Canada has just released a new draft healthy eating guide with a heavy emphasis on plant based whole foods and with no "dairy food" group. As it says "What is needed is a shift towards a high proportion of plant-based foods".

This is a great example of what the Australian Dietary Guidelines should look like at the next review (due in about five years). The Canadian guide shows that scientific bodies can break away from the influence of animal foods industries and promote evidence-based eating patterns.

The good news is that the summary of the Canadian Food Guide is only a few lines long, with most of it recommending non-animal based foods and with an emphasis on whole foods. Health Canada recommends:

  • "Regular intake of vegetables, fruit, whole grains and protein-rich foods, especially plant-based sources of protein"
  • "Inclusion of foods that contain mostly unsaturated fat, instead of foods that contain mostly saturated fat" [ie: animal products]
  • "Limited intake of processed or prepared foods high in sodium, sugars or saturated fat"

The guide lists examples of protein-rich foods, with plant products, such as legumes, beans, nuts, seeds, soy products (including fortified soy beverage), being listed before animal products.

The "dairy food" group is no more, being replaced by the advice to consume a variety of nutritious foods and to drink water.

The authors have also included the health benefits of a healthy environment in their considerations, stating "in general, diets higher in plant-based foods and lower in animal-based foods are associated with a lesser environmental impact". Environmental impacts include greenhouse gas emissions, soil degradation, decreases in water quality and availability, and wildlife loss.

What does this mean for Australia?

In 2012, Vegan Australia began implementing a 3-step plan to lobby for moving the Australian Dietary Guidelines from the old meat-heavy recommendations to 100% plant based. We are almost halfway there!

  • Step 1 was to get plant based diets accepted as nutritionally adequate in the guidelines. DONE! (in 2013 review of the guidelines)
  • Step 2 is to get plant based diets accepted as healthier for humans and the environment than diets containing animal products. This has now been done in Canada in 2017. Hopefully Australia at the next review.
  • Step 3 is to get animal products removed from the guidelines altogether, on the basis of human health and environmental health and avoiding suffering of animals. ASAP!

Vegan Australia will continue to work towards a truly vegan Australia. If you share our vision, get involved!


Vegan Australia is an animal rights organisation that campaigns nationally for veganism. 
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