Wednesday, April 20, 2016

What Americans Can Learn From the New Dutch Dietary Guidelines

[Goodis] Last month the Voedingscentrum, the Netherland’s state-funded nutrition authority, issued an aggressive new set of national dietary guidelines. This is the first time the nation’s official food program has been updated since 2004 and it will be used by many Dutch health providers and nutritionists. They’re pretty similar to most other national dietary guidelines, but the regimen sets itself apart by placing hardline consumption limits on meat and animal products.
The Dutch, they say, should cap meat consumption at two servings per week, with no more than 60 percent of those portions comprising red meat. Furthermore, none of that red meat should processed. Other common animal-based proteins have been scaled back as well: No more than one serving of fish, no more than three eggs and no cheese if possible, favoring nuts and legumes instead.
This is the first time the Voedingscentrum has placed hard limits on meat consumption. These new recommendations are not just notable for their definitive stance on ever-popular animal products, but because they were based as much on environmental sustainability as on health issues. Namely, the meat guidelines directly address overfishing and the inefficient land use and high carbon emissions associated with red meat production.
The environmental impact of meat processing is an especially important issue for Americans to embrace—not just because we account for perhaps 10 percent of agriculture-linked greenhouse gas emissions — but also because we recently struggled (and failed) to bring similar considerations into our own dietary guidelines. Similar concerns but a lack of equivalent action in the U.S. may tempt some to turn to the Dutch guidelines as an alternative to ours here in the States. Yet dietary experts claim that while these guidelines point in the right universal direction, they may not be universally applicable in their particulars. But they can help us reevaluate how we consider the role of sustainability in our own food supply chain. Read More