Yesterday, we wrote about the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommending that people cut back on meat and move towards a plant based diet to improve our health. The Committee also found that we have to move towards a plant based diet for the health of the planet. . . .

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee was established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the USDA. It is the top nutritional panel in the nation, and its findings are used to inform the government's dietary advice updates.

The Committee found consistent evidence that diets high in plant based foods, including vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds and low in animal based foods is associated with a smaller environmental impact on green house gas emissions and use of energy, land and water.

Based on their systematic review of 15 studies, the Committee recommends that people move toward a plant based diet and away from an animal based diet. It says that the evidence supporting this recommendation is in the impressive moderate to strong catagory.

The systematic review of the existing research concluded that vegan, vegetarian and Mediterranean diets had the greatest environmental benefit. These diets reduce green house gas emissions and take less land. The Committee highlighted the overlap between these diets being healthier for people and for the planet. It noted that these diets have higher health scores and higher sustainability scores. It said that the overlap "could be explained by a reduction in the consumption of meat, dairy, extras (i.e., snacks and sweets), and beverages, as well as a reduction in overall food consumption."

Showing just how impressive the consistency between what's good for you and what's good for the planet is, the report explained that a diet that reduces meat consumption by 50% and replaces it with fruit, vegetables and grain is the diet that contributes the most to reducing death by disease and has the "largest positive impact on the environment."

Overall, the Committee's report concluded that "the studies were consistent in showing that higher consumption of animal-based foods was associated with higher estimated environmental impact, whereas consumption of more plant- based foods as part of a lower meat-based or vegetarian-style dietary pattern was associated with estimated lower environmental impact compared to higher meat or non-plant-based dietary patterns."

(Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee: Advisory Report to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of Agriculture. Feb 2015)

For more information on the benefits of a vegetarian diet and for 350 delicious recipes to help you improve the health of you and the planet, see Linda's newest book, The All-New Vegetarian Passport.

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