Monday 19 April 2021

Good news about the Dutch diet? Not a sausage.

Eat the veg, hold the sausage Photo: Takeaway, Wikimedia Commons

Dutch eating habits are wasteful, unhealthy and bad for the environment, according to the RIVM public health institute.

A new report published on Tuesday claims nine out of 10 Dutch people eat too little fruit and veg and almost 30% of the national diet is meat, emitting greenhouse gases that match the impact of the transport sector.

The body, which stresses the role of government in improving the nation’s diet, says that people should eat less, choose more plant-based food, and consume less sugar and alcohol in order to reduce chronic illness and environmental impact. ‘The consumption of less meat is above all linked with fewer food infections,’ it says.

Animal farming also produces methane gas, one of the more harmful of the greenhouse gases linked with climate change.

NOS broadcaster reports that the body wants the government to impose higher tax on meat and enforce labelling so people can see clearly whether products are healthy and sustainable. On Thursday, 150 decision-makers from the Dutch food world will come together at a ‘food summit’ in The Hague to discuss future policy.

Researchers found that although most Dutch people are healthy, which increases life expectancy, half are still overweight – particularly in lower socio-economic groups.

‘The diet of an average person not only leads to worse health but it is also not environmentally friendly enough,’ says the report. ‘It causes greenhouse gas emissions similar to transport. And Dutch people waste 47 kilos of food a year.’

But it adds that healthy and environmentally sustainable eating don’t necessarily marry: to be green, you should use the whole animal, but processed meat products such as sausage ‘are less healthy’. Meanwhile, consumers still shop for convenience and price, while food companies ‘want to serve their customers and make a profit.’

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