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The American Medical Association (AMA) is calling on the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) to indicate that ‘meat and dairy products are optional’, according to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

The latest call follows a 2008 recommendation the organization made passed in the Culturally Responsive Dietary and Nutritional Guidelines D-440.978 resolution.

Food injustice

This is because ‘racial and ethnic disparities exist in the prevalence of obesity and diet-related diseases such as coronary heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes’, a letter written by the AMA dated August 13 said.

The organization added that Black Americans have a higher risk of prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, and cardiovascular mortality. These cancers are ‘strongly linked to dairy, processed meat, and red meat consumption’ – which can also increase cardiovascular risk.

Dairy and health injustice

The AMA is supported by many other individuals and organizations in calling for the removal of foods like dairy from the guidelines in a bid to tackle dietary injustice. Speaking before the Guidelines Committee in 2019, leading physician Dr. Milton Mills said: “The vast majority of people of color in this country are intolerant to the lactose that’s in milk.

“Yet because they think they have to eat this stuff, they go out, eat it, get sick, and think they have some sort of intestinal problem. When I encourage them to stop eating dairy, their problems clear up.

“It’s really outrageous to encourage people to eat foods we know will make them sick, particularly when the number one reason advanced for dairy foods is its calcium content. But African American women are genetically protected against getting osteoporosis. So we’re making them sick for no good reason.”

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) has also been vocal on the issue on a number of occasions. Last week, doctors and other healthcare providers representing the organization protested outside the USDA, urging it to remove dairy from dietary guidelines.

According to PCRM, the recommendation that people should consume up to three portions of dairy daily is particularly harmful to people of color, as studies show that dairy products are linked to heart disease; breast and prostate cancers; and asthma, and these are all diseases that Black Americans die from at a disproportionate rate.

The final Dietary Guidelines should be released by the end of 2020.

Maria Chiorando

Maria is the editor of Plant Based News. As a former magazine editor, newspaper reporter, and features writer, her work has been published by The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and various regional newspapers, as well as Vegan Life magazine and Vegan Trade Journal. She has interviewed a huge range of people, from Prime Ministers to authors, activists, pop stars and actors, and enjoys the varied range of topics writing for PBN allows her to tackle.