The Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) has cautioned people to think twice about eating too much meat, sugary or alcoholic drinks.
“Avoiding overconsumption, a diet with more plant-based and fewer animal-based products, and less sugar-containing and alcoholic drinks: these constitute three opportunities for a healthier and more sustainable dietary pattern,” RIVM spokesperson Toon van Wijk told this site.
Van Wijk’s comments come a week after RIVM published a report suggesting half of Dutch citizens were overweight or obese. The report called for a cut in meat, sugar and alcohol consumption to improve public health and reduce the country’s carbon and methane emissions.
No perfect meat consumption level
The report did not recommend an “optimum” meat consumption level, but van Wijk said people should not eat more than 500 grams of meat per week. Only 300g should be red or processed meat, he added.
Average meat consumption in the Netherlands is 100g per person per day, according to a food consumption study from 2012-2014, referenced by van Wijk.
While this level may not be as high as the average daily meat intake for Australian or US citizens, which is over 200g for both, RIVM believes reducing meat consumption is an “opportunity” to improve health and combat climate change.
Loss of vitamins and minerals
It also recognises that completely cutting meat from the Dutch diet may be counterproductive in improving public health.
“When consumption of meat is entirely cut out, specific attention is needed for sufficient provision of several minerals and vitamins, like vitamin B12 and iron. [Meat] reduction of 30-50% is beneficial for both health and sustainability,” added Van Wijk.
While the body may have recommend a significant drop in meat consumption, it has not called for a meat tax. Last week, the Dutch Meat Association (COV) issued a statement in response to the RIVM study, and said that tax of meat would not “help improve people’s health”.
This came after a spokesman from COV told this site that rising taxes on meat products has been a hot topic of discussion in the run-up to the general election on 15 March 2017.