Chinese food policies, food economy, animal-sourced food production, dietary guidelines, sustainability, animal agriculture, climate resilience, animal welfare

Document Type



In this Article we provide a close analysis of the Chinese Dietary Guidelines – the Food Pagoda. Our focus on the dietary guidelines is motivated by two main considerations. First, the guidelines represent the most comprehensive, nationwide, state sponsored effort to educate the people of China about food. Like citizens in most countries, Chinese people are presented with numerous, often competing, messages from scientists, food gurus and online influencers. The dietary guidelines are different in that they are backed by an entire suite of governmental resources for nationwide dissemination through hospitals, schools, public billboards, TV and radio ads, among others. Among all the food advices and recommendations in China, it is the official dietary guidelines that have the greatest potential for changing dietary preferences. Second, understanding the Chinese dietary guidelines provides a useful basis for international comparison, since more than 100 countries around the world have dietary guidelines. Whether in the form of a pyramid or a plate, visualizations of the “ideal” national diet have become a common vector for official food advice. Examining the dietary guidelines therefore helps situate China in the broader context of government proffered food advice. In this Article, we examine the historical evolution of China’s Dietary Guidelines and their implications for environment, health, and animal welfare. Comparing the guidelines to longitudinal survey data about actual consumption provides a unique window on these issues, and in this Article we discuss what this glimpse may suggest for climate, health, and animal welfare going forward.