The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) is a crucial set of recommendations that guides the national standard for healthy eating. Updated every five years, these guidelines influence the basis of all federal nutrition programs and activities. As the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) begin the process of crafting the 2025-2030 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, PBFA submitted comments on the scientific questions that the Dietary Guideline Advisory Committee will use in the development of the new recommendations. 

In the letter to Janet M. de Jesus, MS, RD, Nutrition Advisor at HHS, PBFA’s Vice President of Policy and Food Systems Nicole Negowetti emphasizes the connection between personal and planetary health and the importance of crafting updates to the DGA that reflect the cross-cutting and high-priority dynamic between nutrition and climate change. 

On average, producing plant-based foods generates half the greenhouse gas emissions of animal-based foods, and requires significantly less land and water resources to produce high-quality, nutritious foods. Plant-based foods and diets have been linked to lower rates of chronic disease and shifting toward plant-based diets can also re-allocate crops and arable land to feed people instead of livestock, alleviating growing resource inequities. 

As the letter details, “In a global modeling analysis examining three sets of diet scenarios on nutrient levels, diet-related and weight-related chronic disease mortality, and environmental impacts for more than 150 countries, replacing animal-source foods with plant-based ones was particularly effective in high-income countries for improving nutrient levels, lowering premature mortality and reducing some environmental impacts, particularly greenhouse gas emissions.” 

By including sustainability and promoting eating patterns that emphasize plant-based foods, the 2025-2030 Dietary Guidelines would increase the demand and access to sustainable and healthful foods and meals for millions of Americans through federal and state-level food and nutrition programs such as The National School Lunch Program and Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.

It is PBFA’s stance that the Dietary Guidelines should support and facilitate Americans’ ability to make healthier food choices through public policies that reflect scientific evidence and the evolving food environment. To do so requires the inclusion of sustainability and plant-based diets as part of the evidence review process.

“If we want a healthier society, then the guidelines that determine the federal nutrition policy and education initiatives must align with the evidence on sustainable and healthy dietary patterns,” Nicole writes in the letter’s conclusion. 

To read PBFA’s full comments click here. PBFA also joined 40 organizations in signing a letter to the Assistant Secretary for Health and Nutrition Advisor calling for sustainability to be addressed in the new guidelines. 

We look forward to working with policymakers and members of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee to craft 2025-2030 guidelines that consider and acknowledge best practices for personal and planetary health.