Ethical dilemmas in choosing a healthful diet: Vote with your fork!

M. Nestle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dietary guidelines for health promotion and disease prevention in the USA recommend a consumption pattern based largely on grains, fruit and vegetables, with smaller amounts of meat and dairy foods, and even smaller amounts of foods high in fat and sugar. Such diets are demonstrably health promoting, but following them raises ethical issues related to the role of nutritionists in advising the public about healthful dietary choices, as well as to the role of the food industry in food production and marketing. In the USA a shift towards a more plant-based diet would affect the economic interests of producers of food commodities, food products and meals prepared outside the home; it would also affect the environment, food prices, trade with other countries (developing as well as industrialized) and relationships among the food industry, government agencies (domestic and international) and food and nutrition professionals. In a free-market economy any dietary choice has consequences for food producers. Thus, considerations of ethical dilemmas in choosing healthful diets suggest that food choices are political acts that offer opportunities for all parties concerned to examine the consequences of such choices and 'vote with forks'.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)619-629
Number of pages11
JournalProceedings of the Nutrition Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2000


  • Dietary guidelines
  • Food choice
  • Food industry
  • Food politics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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