The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Committee established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a report, which is about 600 pages long. Following the comment period, they will then form updated Dietary Guidelines, which have an impact on much of U.S. nutrition policy. VRG Nutrition Advisor Reed Mangels read the preliminary report and submitted testimony, which you can read on our blog posting from May 13, 2015 on

In the Executive Summary, they stated that about half of all American adults – 117 million individuals – have one or more preventable chronic diseases, and about two-thirds of U.S. adults – nearly 155 million individuals – are overweight or obese. It is well established that nutrition and food have an incredible health and economic impact. If you are conservative–leaning, this is certainly reason for personal change or opportunities for entrepreneurs. If you are liberal, you might suggest government policy updates. But either way, vegetarians of various political beliefs know there is a reason for change.

Interestingly, in the Executive Summary they stated they have enough information from existing research to model and examine three dietary patterns: the Healthy U.S.–style Pattern; the Healthy Mediterranea–style Pattern; and the Healthy Vegetarian Pattern. Who would have thought that vegetarianism would be one of the choices?

The Executive Summary stated, “Linking health, dietary guidance, and the environment will promote human health and the sustainability of natural resources and ensure current and long-term food security.” For more than 30 years, VRG's slogan (like the vegetarian movement) has been a linking of health, environment, and ethics. It is incredible to us that the Dietary Guidelines experts are now officially trying to link health and environment in the formulation of policy. There was pushback against this, so look at the final report to see what happened. However, the last leg has still been left out – ethics. No matter how much you educate people, for the majority of people to make nutrition changes and stick to them, they need a higher belief. For someone who keeps strictly kosher, they may find it impossible to stick to a diet for losing weight, but nothing under normal circumstances will tempt them to eat non–kosher foods. The same would apply to Halal, or a person who is vegan because of ethics about eating animal products. Eventually, those formulating nutrition policy and education programs will have to add that other component and realize that people need a personal belief reason to make and stick to dietary changes. For our younger readers, save our prediction. Thanks for your long–term support and advocacy.

Debra Wasserman & Charles Stahler
Coordinators of The Vegetarian Resource Group