CANADA is encouraging its consumers to switch animal proteins for plant-based proteins, in a new food guide which was issued to the public at the end of January.

In the past, Canada was known for championing its dairy farmers and detailing the benefits of their produce – however, this new nutrition guide has failed to recognise the benefits of dairy products and has removed food groups entirely.

The food guide, which has been amended for the first time in 12 years, previously discussed four food groups — vegetables and fruit, grain products, milk and meat — but these are now history. Instead, food is being separated in to three groupings: vegetables and fruits, whole grains and protein foods.

Also removed from guidance are recommendations for specific portions or daily servings, on the basis that the public are less likely to weigh and measure their foods. This has been a blow to dairy farmers, as their marketing campaigns have often been built upon how many servings of dairy you should consume per day.

Canadians are now being advised to focus on proportions, with an emphasis on a high proportion of plant-based foods, replacing cream, high fat cheese and butter, with foods like nuts, seeds and avocados. It is being recommended for half of an individual’s diet to consists of fruit and vegetables – stating that eating more nuts or soy protein can help improve blood fat levels, whereas processed meat could lead to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

Canada’s Health Minister, Ginette Petitpas Taylor, explained the shift in focus of the new food guide during its press launch: “Healthy eating is more than just the food that you eat and it gives Canadians the tools they need to eat healthily. It puts more focus on what, when and how we eat and less on food groups and servings. It gives clear, concise advice, that everyone can easily apply to everyday lives. Things like; cooking more often, eating with others and limiting highly processed foods. The focus should be on prioritising quality over quantity in our diets,”

One objective of the guide is to address the rise in child obesity, and it calls out chocolate milk, in addition to juice, as a culprit in the growing childhood obesity crisis. For decades, parents have been giving their children flavoured milks as a way to entice them to consume dairy.

The country's dairy industry has expressed its concern over the new food guide, saying it will serve a real blow to Canadian farmers. This has added to current worries over the recent trade concessions made to the US during the negotiations of United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

Dairy Farmers of Canada commented: "There is no scientific justification to minimise the role of milk products in a healthy diet." Issuing a statement in response to the new food guide, they went on to to cite numerous studies promoting milk's health benefits.

Milk consumption has declined since 2009, according to Statistics Canada, while the popularity of plant-based milk-alternatives have grown.