May 13, 2015 by
Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor
Following are the comments submitted by The Vegetarian Resource Group on the Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. This report will be the basis for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines.
We commend the Dietary Guidelines Advisory committee on the thoroughness of the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. We strongly support the recommendations included in this report to consume generous amounts of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes and nuts and to reduce consumption of red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened foods and beverages, and refined grains. These recommendations are evidence-based and, if followed, will result in substantial health benefits. Many studies have found strong associations between the amount of red and processed meat consumed and risk of death from cancer or cardiovascular disease.1,2 Researchers from the National Cancer Institute estimated that 11% of deaths in men and 16% of deaths in women could be prevented by people decreasing their red meat consumption.1 For women, a marked decrease in red meat or processed meat consumption was estimated to prevent about 1 in 5 deaths from cardiovascular disease.1 Results such as these, as well as results of other studies finding that high intakes of red meat and processed meat have been linked to type 2 diabetes,3 colorectal cancer 4-6 and breast cancer,7.8 lend support to the benefits of limiting consumption of red and processed meats.
Substantial health benefits are associated with plant-based diets and with components of plant-based diets including vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.9-11
Based on the health benefits associated with a plant-based diet and the risks associated with red and processed meats, we strongly support having the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans include a recommendation to limit red and processed meat intake. These products should be replaced with non-animal foods such as legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
We strongly support the inclusion in Dietary Guidelines of a Healthy Vegetarian Pattern as a dietary pattern associated with health benefits. A body of research consistently indicates that a vegetarian dietary pattern is beneficial in the prevention of a number of chronic diseases.12 Specific information about vegan and lacto-ovo vegetarian diets should be included in the Dietary Guidelines to meet the needs of consumers.
In addition, we applaud the inclusion of information about food sustainability. We agree with the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s statement 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.” We support the inclusion of this message in Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015.
The latest edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans represents an opportunity to promote dietary changes that will have a substantial impact on the nation’s health and health care costs and on the global environment. We support the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee that Americans consume less meat and more plant-based foods.
Thank you for your consideration of our comments.
Reed Mangels, PhD, RD, LDN, FADA
The Vegetarian Resource Group
1. Sinha R, Cross AJ, Graubard BI, et al. Meat intake and mortality. A prospective study of over half a million people. Arch intern Med. 2009;169:562-571.
2. Pan A, Sun Q, Bernstein AM, et al. Red meat consumption and mortality: results from 2 prospective cohort studies. Arch Intern Med. 2012;172:555-63.
3. Pan A, Sun Q, Bernstein AM, Manson JE, Willett WC, Hu FB. Changes in red meat consumption and subsequent risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus: three cohorts of US men and women. JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173:1328-35.
4. Ferrucci LM, Sinha R, Huang WY, et al. Meat consumption and the risk of incident distal colon and rectal adenoma. Br J Cancer. 2012 Jan 31;106(3):608-16.
5. Ruder EH, Thiébaut AC, Thompson FE, et al. Adolescent and mid-life diet: risk of colorectal cancer in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Dec;94(6):1607-19.
6. Magalhães B, Peleteiro B, Lunet N. Dietary patterns and colorectal cancer: systematic review and meta-analysis. Eur J Cancer Prev. 2012 Jan;21(1):15-23.
7. Cho E, Chen WY, Hunter DJ, et al. Red meat intake and risk of breast cancer among premenopausal women. Arch Intern Med. 2006;166:2253-9.
8. Linos E, Willett WC, Cho E, et al. Red meat consumption during adolescence among premenopausal women and risk of breast cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2008 Aug;17(8):2146-51.
9. Liu RH. Health-promoting components of fruits and vegetables in the diet. Adv Nutr. 2013;4(3):384S-9.
10. Sabaté J, Ang Y. Nuts and health outcomes: new epidemiologic evidence. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89(5):1643S-1648S.
11. Messina V. Nutritional and health benefits of dried beans. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014;100 Suppl 1:437S-42S.
12. Craig WJ, Mangels AR. Position of the American Dietetic Association: vegetarian diets. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009;109:1266-1282.