Dietary guidelines' focus on vegetarianism earns praise

The nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is praising an expert panel's proposed national dietary guidelines for highlighting the benefits of vegetarian diets. The departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services opened up the proposed guidelines to public comment on Tuesday.

The report from a panel of experts and public comments will be translated by the federal government into dietary guidelines that serve as the basis for federal nutrition education and promotion programs, as well as food assistance.

"Previous advisory panels have noted the value of vegetarian diets, but they have never been officially recommended in final guidelines, which are often altered by political forces," the committee said in a statement. "The current language is the strongest to date — it notes that vegetarian diets are asscoiated with a lower body mass index, lower blood pressure and improved health outcomes."