Canada ranked as the 12th leading beef producer in the world in 2016, with the country’s more than 60,000 cattle ranches and feedlots contributing more than $26 million to the nation’s GDP. So, news that the Canadian government is now recommending a predominantly plant-based diet as part of its updated dietary guidelines came as quite a (polite) shock to its citizens.
Canadian health officials have moved the country's dietary guidelines away from standard serving or portion size recommendations, and is instead encouraging a diet focused on a “regular intake” of fresh fruits and vegetables, plant-based proteins, and whole grains. It’s a shift from the system we rely on here in the U.S., like the recommended five to ten servings of fresh fruits and vegetables per day.
The theory behind the move is that if a plate is filled with whole foods that are minimally processed and mostly plant-based, there’s really no reason to monitor serving size. While overeating is certainly possible, it’s less likely on a whole foods diet, and even if not strictly adhered to, when it serves as the baseline, infrequent deviations won’t cause significant harm.
But perhaps most shocking, is Canada’s complete elimination of any recommended consumption of dairy products. The official guidelines suggest instead a “regular intake of water.”
The guidelines also encourage ethnic eating, noting that “Traditional foods and the harvesting of traditional foods are intrinsically linked to identity and culture, and contribute to overall health.”
In 2016, the Netherlands made a similar update to its dietary guidelines, encouraging its country—well known for its focus on animal products—to shift toward a plant-based diet, reducing meat consumption to less than 500 grams per week.
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