The Canadian and U.S. food guides are arguably more reflective of the typical North American diet than they are of an actual health conscious diet. Oddly enough, the U.S. food pyramid actually recommends consuming more bread, cereals, rice, and pasta than fruits and vegetables. How could it be healthier to consume more bread than broccoli?
The USDA Food Guide Pyramid and Canada’s Food Guide both recommend eating 2-3 servings of milk, yogurt, and cheese, as well as 2-3 servings of meat, poultry, fish, and eggs. Yet, meat and dairy consumption are linked with numerous health risks including cancer, heart disease, obesity and more.
Harvard University found that even eating small amounts of red meat, especially processed red meat, on a regular basis has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and dying from cardiovascular disease or any other cause in general. Those tiny pieces of bacon you add to your salad could literally cost you your life.
However, the government and many medical doctors support the false ideology that people need to consume a specific amount of meat and dairy products to maintain a healthy diet. When did the disconnect occur between the government and science?
Well, it seems we could take some health tips from those living across the pond in Belgium, as the new Belgium food pyramid was just released and it reflects a more accurate depiction of a healthy diet.
The New Belgium Food Pyramid
The new and improved Belgium food pyramid looks a little different than the food guides in North America, and for good reason. Sitting at the top of the pyramid are water, fruits, vegetables, tofu, and noodles, and animal products all rest far below their plant-based alternatives.
Small amounts of eggs, dairy, fish, and poultry lie below fruits, vegetables, carbohydrates, and plant-based proteins, and then steak sits at the very bottom. Other red meat and processed meats were completely removed from the pyramid altogether, including bacon, pepperoni, and deli meats. Instead, they now sit in a separate section: a red small circle of foods recommended to avoid.
The guide categorizes such meats as being just as harmful as pizza, pop, chips, processed foods, french fries, desserts, and alcohol. Another interesting note is that it’s not just beer that’s sitting in this danger zone, it’s a glass of red wine, too.
Contrary to popular belief, a glass of wine per day isn’t necessarily healthy, especially if it’s a low-grade wine made with pesticide-ridden grapes. Belgians have been advised to eat these danger-zone foods “as little as possible.” Policymakers aren’t planning to make these products illegal any time soon, but unlike the U.S. and Canadian governments, they took a stand against the meat industry and are prepared to face the blowback from larger factory farming corporations.
“We want to make it clear that we don’t need these products,” a representative of the Flemish Institute of Healthy Life told Flanders Today. “We don’t forbid them, but they should be rather an exception than rule.”
You can check out the new Belgian food pyramid below:
So, why haven’t other governments followed suit? Well, many governments are sadly tied up with the meat and dairy industries. It seems that politicians would rather avoid upsetting big corporations than actually improving the health of their citizens. These huge corporations will gladly lobby the government until they get their way, and they have.
The Link Between Government and the Meat and Dairy Industries
During World War 1, the U.S. government started producing mass amounts of canned milk so they could be shipped to troops overseas to fight malnutrition. After the war ended, demand for milk plummeted and the country was left with enough milk to feed an army (literally).
Instead of reducing production, the government decided they had invested too much money into expanding dairy operations to let it go to waste, so they started convincing consumers to buy more. “Milk education” became standard practice in schools, which was eventually extended throughout the entire nation by way of advertisements such as the multi-million dollar “Got Milk?” campaigns.
The USDA, the same governing body that creates dietary guidelines, also helps form partnerships with restaurants to develop dairy-heavy menus. Check out this video that elaborates on the government’s ties to the dairy industry.
The USDA has a similar relationship to the meat industry, which is clearly illustrated in the Food Guide Pyramid. The protein section of the pyramid only lists different animal products and nuts, completely omitting many plant-based protein sources. The USDA has heavy ties to many advertisements and campaigns encouraging consumers to purchase meat.
The U.S. government spends $38 billion annually to subsidize the meat and dairy industries, in comparison to only 0.04% of that on fruits and vegetables. If the government didn’t benefit from meat and dairy sales, our recommended intake of animal products would probably look a lot different.
It seems strange that our government would knowingly recommend we eat certain foods without disclosing the numerous studies that have proven that meat and dairy consumption can cause cancer, heart disease, obesity, and many more health complications.
Then again, we live in a society that’s largely driven by profit. You don’t have broccoli companies that can afford to lobby the government, and so you don’t see huge campaigns encouraging you to eat broccoli. This is why it’s crucial to do your own research, especially when it comes to the sources of funding.
It’s pretty awesome that Belgium is encouraging people to eat more plant-based! We need more transparency about what a healthy diet looks like, and ultimately we still live in a world where a lot of people trust authority, namely their political systems. So, if the government is telling people what a healthy diet looks like, a lot of people will listen.
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It’s crucial that we learn more about our bodies and how we can improve our health so we can progress as a society. We cannot operate without our bodies, so it’s important that we take interest in how we can better our health.
To learn more about the harmful effects of meat and dairy, check out the following CE articles:
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