2.56 WFPB – Why Does the USDA Not Promote a Whole Food Plant Based Diet?
In this HeartStrong.com video/article, lets examine why it is that the USDA does not promote a whole food plant based diet. Consider this…the USDA has two jobs: Promote agriculture and give dietary guidelines to Americans. You can see how this is a major conflict of interest. If the USDA told Americans to not eat meat and dairy, there would be a major negative impact on the economy. Not to mention the meat/dairy industry is a multi-billion dollar industry…larger than the oil industry in the US. Any proposal to promote a more plant based diet is met with strong lobbying efforts which are very effective to halt any change that would negatively effect profits of the meat and dairy industry. Its as simple as that.
Many of the members on the USDA panel that write the dietary guidelines for Americans were paid consultants to the meat, dairy, egg or sugar industry. Recently, the Physician’s Committee For Responsible Medicine (PCRM.org) actually sued the USDA complaining about industry influence on the USDA dietary guidelines.
Many major organizations recognize that a whole food plant based diet is the optimal way to eat, but do not recommend it since they do not think that a majority of people will take their advice to eliminate animal products completely from their diet based on culture, habit and the state of our current food system. Thus, they advocate diets that are high in plant based foods and lower in meat/seafood/dairy, but still contain enough to appease the appetite of most Americans. Unfortunately, this approach has clearly not worked. Americans deserve to hear the truth that eating animal based foods is simply harmful to our health and a dietary pattern that eliminates them completely is a very healthy way to be.
Lastly, it is difficult to do large randomized control trials comparing different dietary patterns such as a whole food plant based diet and more studies need to be done. This is why much of nutrition research comes from population studies like in The China Study. However as previously mentioned, a whole food plant based diet is the only dietary pattern that has been showed to actually reverse heart disease. Organizations, while recognizing the health benefits of a WFPB diet, do not recommend it until further research is completed. Many nutrition experts on the other hand are completely convinced that we do have enough evidence already to recommend this dietary pattern.
Having said all that, the USDA guidelines actually do say “individuals should eat as little dietary cholesterol as possible” while stopping short of saying not to eat any at all and the most recent 2015 guidelines did shift more toward plant based eating, but not completely. Also realize that these guidelines are generalized toward all people. Once heart disease, vascular disease, stroke or diabetes has developed, it makes complete sense to be more aggressive with dietary recommendations such as following a whole food plant based diet.