Anna-Lena Klapp, Nico Feil, Antje Risius, A Global Analysis of National Dietary Guidelines on Plant-Based Diets and Substitutions for Animal-Based Foods, Current Developments in Nutrition, Volume 6, Issue 11, November 2022, nzac144, https://doi.org/10.1093/cdn/nzac144
Discussing plant-based diets and substitutions for animal-based foods in food-based dietary guidelines (FBDGs) can be a key step in making dietary recommendations more sustainable and healthy as well as more inclusive. The existing large-scale evaluations of FBDGs do not assess whether and to what extent countries cover the broad spectrum of plant-based diets and have policy positions on vegetarian diets, including vegan diets, and whether they mention specific plant-based alternatives to milk, dairy products, and meat. The main aim of this state-of-the-art review was to determine whether and how FBDGs provide such information.
An overall 95 guidelines and 100 corresponding countries were assessed via an exploratory sequential mixed method. This involved qualitative explorative content analysis of the guidelines, followed by hierarchical cluster analysis. Furthermore, the Balanced Food Choice Index (BFCI) was constructed, which measures the extent to which FBDGs provide recommendations that cover the broad spectrum of plant-based diets, with some or no animal-based products. To explore the correlations between FBDGs’ recommendations and ecological and economic country characteristics, ordinary least squares regression was used.
It was found that most countries do not provide information to their citizens that cover the broad spectrum of plant-based diets, as indicated by the mean score of the BFCI (33.58 of 100 points). A total of 38 guidelines (40%) contain a position on vegetarian diets. Nearly half (45%) of all FBDGs already mention plant-based alternatives to meat or animal milk. The regressions showed that the BFCI correlates positively with countries’ ecological efforts and negatively with the importance of animal-based products in their economies.
This study demonstrates considerable information insufficiency in current FBDGs worldwide. FBDGs should provide recommendations for the broad spectrum of plant-based diets and balance the ethical, ecological, religious, and economic aspects that play a role in people’s food choice.
This research was financially supported by the Ministry of Science and Culture of Lower Saxony through the Nachhaltige Ernaehrungsstile project, the Open Access Publication Funds of the Göttingen University, and ProVeg e.V. The funding sources had no role in the study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript; or in the decision to submit the article for publication.
Transparency | Diversity | Dynamism | Evidence-based |