Children and adults should avoid consuming animal products to reduce the risk for chronic disease: Debate Consensus

Am J Clin Nutr. 2020 Oct 1;112(4):937-940. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqaa237.


The present debate outlined opposing views regarding the role of animal products in human diets. The YES position argues that the health benefits and safety of plant-based diets have been clearly established by consistent findings of randomized trials and observational studies; that animal products skew the diet toward saturated fat, excess protein, cholesterol, lactose, and exogenous hormones; and that vulnerable populations are better nourished by vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains than by striated muscle and cow milk. In contrast, the NO position asserts that animal foods are not only benign but are also key elements of the human omnivore diet, facilitating the global challenge of adequate essential nutrition. This view holds that the portrayal of animal foods as unhealthy is not supported by the evidence and that a restrictive vegan diet decreases nutritional flexibility and robustness, increasing risk for vulnerable population groups. Points of agreement and controversy were identified, as well as opportunities for further studies.

Keywords: dairy; eggs; fish; meat; omnivorous; plants; vegan; vegetarian.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Child
  • Chronic Disease / prevention & control*
  • Consensus
  • Diet, Vegetarian*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Risk