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Five years after the government panel concluded that eating less meat is better for human and environmental health, Netherlands is finally taking some action to change the Dutch diet.
The Netherland Nutrition Centre, responsible for making food-based dietary guidelines, is now recommending people eat just two servings of meat a week in what will be the first time the government set an explicit limit on meat consumption. The conversation around this decision was not only health-based but put major weight on the sustainability of the meat industry and the colossal impact farming practices today have on the planet.
“The new dietary guidelines are implemented in our new education model … in a way that the total environmental impact of the diet is lower than the current consumption,” explained Corné van Dooren, a sustainable food expert at the center. “We focus on eating a less animal-based and more plant-based diet by the unique advice to consume not more than 500 grams of meat a week.”
The Netherlands, as we saw the UK do last week in regards to dairy consumption, is confronting this skewed system head on by ignoring lobbyists, and setting standards as they see fit!
The Netherlands is just one of a handful of countries that have started to seriously consider the environmental implications of the nutritional advice they dole out yearly. As Kathleen Merrigan, former deputy secretary at the U.S Department of Agriculture told National Geographic in an interview, “we didn’t see agriculture as a main-stage topic in Paris at the climate talks and yet the estimates are that agriculture contributes 22 percent of the human-created greenhouse gasses.”
And that’s not where the destruction wrought by a food system dominated by animal agriculture ends. This industry currently occupies over half of the world’s arable land resources, uses the majority of our freshwater stores, and drives greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, this system causes rampant air and water pollution, land degradation, deforestation and is pushing countless species to the brink of extinction. And yet, one in eight people still suffer from food scarcity.
Clearly this system is broken, and the Dutch government is stepping up in acknowledging that. The new dietary guidelines come with a new education model as well, which offers help in finding other alternatives for protein. Corné van Dooren, a sustainable food expert at the center urges Dutch people to look for more plant-based proteins such as unsalted nuts and pulses.
The Dutch government is not stopping there, though. They expressed openly that these are just a few of the revisions they hope to implement in the near future and feel that there is “still more work to be done” both in their own government, as well as those in other countries. With more countries standing up to the meat industry for the sake of the planet and human health, we hope that the U.S. will be quick to follow suit!
The good news is, in the meantime, you can start making a positive impact with your next meal! As the leading organization at the forefront of the conscious consumerism movement, it is One Green Planet’s view that our food choices have the power to heal our broken food system, give species a fighting chance for survival, and pave the way for a truly sustainable future.
By choosing to eat more plant-based foods, you can drastically cut your carbon footprint, save precious water supplies and help ensure that vital crop resources are fed to people, rather than livestock. With the wealth of available plant-based options available, it has never been easier to eat with the planet in mind.
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Image Source: United Soybean Board/Flickr