The nation’s Dietary Guidelines are set to be revised this year, and a panel of scientific experts advising the federal government says that Americans should eat “more fruit, vegetables, dairy, and whole grains, and less sugar and refined grains.” Included in the recommendations? A suggestion to eat less meat.

This suggestion, as well as statements linking plant-based dietary choices with fewer environmental impacts, is causing some concern. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has posted its report here, and public comment will be accepted until April 8th, 2015. For a terrific take on the report, read Marion Nestle’s post at Food Politics.

From the report, which will inform the Dietary Guidelines, but does not set them:

“It will take concerted, bold actions…to achieve and maintain the healthy diet patterns, and the levels of physical activity needed to promote the health of the U.S. population. These actions will require a paradigm shift to an environment in which population health is a national priority and where individuals and organizations, private business, and communities work together to achieve a population-wide “culture of health” in which healthy lifestyle choices are easy, accessible, affordable, and normative.”

For a comparative viewpoint, Americans may want to see what Brazil has proposed in its new dietary guidelines, information we shared via Marion Nestle (@marionnestle) some time ago.

Here’s the story: Brazil recently published new dietary guidelines that explicitly challenge the consumption of processed foods by saying, “Always prefer natural or minimally processed foods and freshly made dishes and meals to ultra-processed products.”

The document has four key recommendations for all Brazilians:

* Make natural or minimally processed foods the basis of your diet;

* Use oils, fats, salt, and sugar in small amounts for seasoning and cooking foods and to create culinary preparations;

* Limit the use of processed foods, consuming them in small amounts as ingredients in culinary preparations or as part of meals based on natural or minimally processed foods; and

* Avoid ultra-processed products, which specifically identifies packaged snacks, soft drinks, and instant noodles, terming them “nutritionally unbalanced.”

The Brazilian government also said of processed food products:

“Their means of production, distribution, marketing, and consumption damage culture, social life, and the environment.”

Brazilians are encouraged to be “supportive of socially and environmentally sustainable food systems.”

The Brazilian government’s research indicates that the main diseases that currently affect their citizens are no longer acute, but rather, chronic. One in two adults and one in three Brazilian children are overweight.

For a discussion about the Brazilian dietary guidelines, read Marion Nestle’s Food Politics piece by clicking here. To read the government-issued guidelines (translated to English), click here to access a PDF.

And stay tuned for what is certain to be a lively debate moving forward.