Canada's new Food Guide: More Plant-based

The new Canada’s food guide is a huge step in the right direction.

Just unveiled today (Jan 22, 2019), the new Canada’s food guide replaces the more than a decade old 2007 guide. The significant adjustments made in this new guide are noteworthy for several reasons, in particular because of the emphasis on whole-foods, plant-based eating.

For example:

  • Plant-based eating is emphasized throughout the guide

  • The label “Meat and alternatives” is dropped in favor of “Protein foods”, and it now encourages plant-based proteins in particular. The guide states: “Choose protein foods that come from plants more often. Plant-based protein foods can provide more fibre and less saturated fat than other types of protein foods.”

  • Dairy is no longer prominently featured in the guide. In fact, this new guide no longer has a separate section or category dedicated to dairy. Instead, it is included under the proteins section.

  • Highly processed food is discouraged in favor of whole foods, particularly foods cooked at home. The guide emphasizes limiting added sodium, sugars and saturated fat.

A look at the two pictures below illustrates the shift that has taken place in the food guide. The one on the left is the 2007 guide and the one on the right is the 2019 guide. You will notice that dairy is no longer prominently featured.

2007 Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide

2007 Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide

2018/2019 edition of Canada’s Food Guide

2018/2019 edition of Canada’s Food Guide

One reason for these changes is because this time around, the ministry did not let the food industry have a major say in the development of the guidelines. This was a source of complaint for the dairy and cattle industries, but Health Canada resisted the pressure to cave to these powerful groups and stuck to the science.

This new guide is a major step in a positive direction both for the health of Canadians, the sustainability of the planet and compassion towards animals. I encourage all to consider moving towards a more whole-foods, plant-based diet.

George Cho