Last fall, when the Canadian government began consulting the public on its plan to revise national food guidelines, I wrote that the existing food guide had lost all usefulness and credibility because lobbyists and economic concerns, rather than science, had been the driving force behind their structure and content.
I wrote that we don’t need food categories (other countries have done away with them) but if we retain them we absolutely don’t need a milk category, and the “meat and alternatives” category should instead be “protein” that gives due prominence, given their health advantages, to legumes.
Frankly, this was pie-in-the-sky. Despite these suggestions being based on sound nutrition science, I wasn’t optimistic that government would escape the long reach of the animal foods industries that have been effective in maintaining undue prominence in dietary guidelines since the 1940s.
Happily, I was very wrong.
The Canadian government has issued new draft healthy eating recommendations, which would overhaul the antiquated system of food categories—focusing instead on eating patterns—and emphasize the importance of including a “high proportion of plant-based foods.” The milk category is indeed gone in the draft recommendations, and the powerhouse legume has been elevated above animal foods.
The draft food guide’s first, foundational recommendation establishes the importance of whole foods and specifies that plant-based foods (such as legumes) are a preferred source of protein. The recommendation is for “regular intake of vegetables, fruit, whole grains and protein-rich foods, especially plant-based sources of protein.”
The draft guidelines also encourage a shift…