Various studies have come to the conclusion that existing dietary guidelines not only improve health, but are generally more ecologically favorable than the average diets of today.
The new British Eatwell Guide (Public Health England, 2016) took a first step in the direction of sustainability by recommending: “Eat more beans and pulses, two portions of sustainably sourced fish a week, one of which is oily. Eat less red and processed meat.” The names of the food group segments have been revised to emphasis certain foods within the food group that are considered more environmentally friendly. The protein segment is called “Beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins”: this is a way of showing that the nutritional value of proteins from plant sources is an important part of the total protein intake.
The Dutch Health Council published the new Healthy Nutrition Guidelines in November 2015. The main recommendation from the Health Council is to eat less animal-based foods and more plant-based foods. The report of the Health Council formed the basis for the new “Wheel of Five” which takes sustainability into account: giving for the first time a clear recommendation for a maximum amount of meat (maximum 500 grams meat per week, of which maximum 300 grams red meat). “Vary your diet with fish, legumes, nuts, eggs and vegetarian products” is one of the recommendations of the new Wheel of Five. All five of these protein-rich product groups have a lower environmental impact than meat. The advice to eat a weekly portion of legumes (135 grams) and a handful of nuts a day (25 grams) contributes to a more sustainable diet.