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US dietary guidelines proposed by government advisory committee - back low-meat diet for helping planet

The 2015 USDA’s Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, has published a report that sets out its revised dietary recommendations to encourage Americans to eat more healthily, and this time the recommendations also take account of environmental sustainability considerations. The report, Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (Advisory Report) will be reviewed by the Secretaries of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Federal government will determine how it will use the information in the Advisory Report as the government develops the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015 to be released later this year.

Their recommendation is to eat a diet high in vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds since this is "more health promoting and is associated with less environmental impact'' than the current US diet, which is high in meat. The report does however emphasise that "no food groups need to be eliminated completely to improve sustainability outcomes".

The committee has also proposed a tax on sugary drinks and snacks as one way to encourage Americans to eat better.

Read the full report here and see the response from Beef USA, and the North American Meat Institute. There has also been some critical comments from the soft drinks industry, arguing that the report ignores scientific evidence. See a press release from the American Beverage Association here.

There is also further coverage from New York Times here and here and Washington Post here. The BBC has covered the guidelines here.  Finally, Eating Better has recently written a blog-post about the new dietary recommendations which you can read here

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North America

North America is the northern subcontinent of the Americas covering about 16.5% of the Earth's land area. This large continent has a range of climates spanning Greenland’s permanent ice sheet and the dry deserts of Arizona. Both Canada and the USA are major food producers and some of the largest food exporters in the world. Industrial farms are the norm in North America, with high yields relative to other regions and only 2% of the population involved in agriculture.

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