Families being led to believe that replacing locally produced cow’s milk with a nut juice as a like-for-like exchange is misleading, Louise Reynolds, a registered dietitian, has warned.

Reynolds, who is also communications manager with the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute (INDI), expressed disappointment with the dietary messaging in the What Planet Are You On? TV show.

“Families watching the show who want to do the right thing for the environment being led to believe that replacing locally produced cow’s milk with a nut juice, such as an almond ‘milk’ in a like-for-like exchange is misleading.

“Almond and oat [juices], for example, are very low in protein and are not comparable to cow’s milk. They are not equivalent nutritionally,” she said. She added that these milk alternatives are not naturally rich in calcium and there was no mention of ensuring the alternatives chosen are fortified with calcium, not to mention the cost.

“It was disappointing that the takeaway nutritional message for families, and it was a family programme that was on at a family time, was to ‘go vegan’. It would have been much better to see some more detailed discussion around positive steps to be taken towards a plant-based diet, taking all nutritional factors into account,” she said.

“We all accept that there is a need for consumers to be more sustainable and to protect the planet. And, yes, we can all benefit by making healthy changes to our diet. However, the dietary requirements of people are nuanced, vary considerably between ages and life stages and need to be explained properly.

“It is an over simplification to advocate a vegan diet across the board without addressing the healthiest way to make that change,” she said.

Reynolds also said there was no cognisance taken of the family profile in the show.

“As dietitians, we are always happy to support consumers in whatever diet they choose by providing the best, evidenced-based information to help them achieve a nutritionally adequate and healthy diet. This advice and support was sorely lacking in last week’s TV show.”