healthy eating, animal justice, plant-based eating, dairy consumption, dietary recommendations, dietary culture

Document Type



In early 2019, the Canadian Government released the much-anticipated new Canada Food Guide. It is a food guide that de-emphasizes dairy products and promotes plant-based eating. Notably, in the new version, milk and milk products are de-listed as one of the previously four essential food groups. On the surface, it seems that the federal government is promoting veganism and helping to bring about a friendlier future for animals and humans harmed by being producers and consumers of dairy, as the new Guide may seriously contract the currently robust Canadian dairy industry and its powerful lobby. On closer inspection, the messaging from Health Canada is easily overtaken by an administrative landscape that protects the dairy industry and markets dairy products to Canadians and abroad as well as a legal landscape that completely commodifies cows. Adopting a critical animal studies perspective, this paper situates Health Canada’s de-listing of dairy as a nutritionally foundational food source within a larger socio-legal Canadian regulatory landscape to assess the potential of the new Canada Food Guide to contest the entrenched legal and cultural norm of the dairy cow and her milk as products for human consumption.