Health sector /
Dietitians NZ response to Ministry-led guideline to reduce meat and dairy in hospitals concerning

New Zealand’s professional association for registered dietitians, Dietitians NZ, has come under fire for their recent dismissal of new Ministry of Health-led recommendations to reduce the amount of meat and dairy being served in NZ hospitals.

In a media statement, Dieitians NZ argued that dietitians were "not in favour of recommendations from new sustainability guidelines for the health sector", and that "...a general recommendation to reduce meat and dairy in hospitals is not appropriate." The media release further states that "the government should focus its efforts on prevention to reduce the number of people admitted to hospital."

Massey University Professor, John Potter, has called out Dietitans NZ response and questioned their funding sources, which include Beef + Lamb NZ. He argues that one of dietitians' most important and urgent tasks is to ensure that patients leave hospital with healthier (and more sustainable) eating patterns that will help to prevent them returning.

"...for those recovering from heart disease or type 2 diabetes, the last dietary item they need is more meat...What better place is there to start making dietary changes than in hospital, recovering from a diet-related chronic disease? We know that there is often no better time to get smokers off tobacco than when recovering from cancer or a heart attack."

OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate & Health Council and health promotion charity Doctors for Nutrition also released a joint media statement in response to the unexpected opposition from Dietitians NZ regarding Ministry of Health advice to increase plant-based options within health care settings. They argue that the Ministry is "right to urge reduced meat and dairy in hospitals", and offer their endorsement of the new guidelines.

“Alongside health benefits, we see a stepwise reduction in diet-related climate pollution as our diet becomes increasingly plant-based. Public institutions can play a leading role in addressing the climate emergency, including implementing sustainable food policies and procurement practices”, Doctors For Nutrition Lead Nutrition Advisor for NZ and Canadian Registered Dietitian, Anna DeMello explains.



It was good to hear Dietitians NZ, in its response, emphasising the value of prevention, particularly with an eye to reducing admissions to hospital. However, its reaction to the minister's specific recommendation that the health system should reduce meat and dairy consumption was concerning. It asserted that sick people need to eat meat. This is hard to swallow from an organisation that is expounding outdated beliefs and is supported by Beef + Lamb NZ.

-Prof. John D. Potter, The Dominion Post, Aug 20 2019

Anna de Mello & Jono Drew

Founders, Plant-Based Living Initiative

August 23, 2019

Topic / Healthcare

Introduction /
The triple benefit of plant-based eating: health, cost, environment

EAT-Lancet /
Eating in the Anthropocence

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Open Access /
Sustainability and the health sector
Ministry of Health, 2019