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Belgium’s New food pyramid has a distinctly plant-based angle. Food pyramids are nutritional guidelines released by governments and medical associations that recommend the relative quantity of what people should be consuming and how often those foods should be consumed. Traditional food pyramids are known to suggest meat and dairy consumption as the research is often funded by agricultural industries. Food pyramids are usually arranged in ascending order from what should be consumed most frequently at the top, down to what should only be consumed on occasion or enjoyed as a treat.

However, Belgium’s latest food pyramid reflects a highly plant-based scheme. Tofu, water, vegetables, nuts, fruits are noodles are right at the top – meaning it is recommended that these are consumed daily. Right at the bottom is steak, meaning that this should be infrequently consumed, only on occasions. Furthermore, processed meats such as bacon, pepperoni and other deli meats don’t even feature within the new food pyramid, as they are in a side circle of foods that are advised to be consumed “as little as possible” – alongside sugary soft drinks, pizza, cookies and French fries.

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The new guidelines indicate that the Flemish Institute of Healthy Life, (which released the graphic Sept. 19.) perceive processed meat as a “junk” food due to the inclusion by association.

It is widely known that the World Health Organisation has officially classified human consumption of processed meats as a carcinogen, and perhaps this has a part to play in these revised recommendations? Canada is another country who have taken steps to remove animal products from their guidelines earlier this year, initially with proposing the complete elimination of dairy.

A representative of The Flemish Institute of Healthy Life told Flanders Today “We want to make it clear that we don’t need these products, we don’t forbid them [meats and processed food], but they should be rather an exception than rule.”

The Belgian government has also released a pyramid which is deigned to encourage the country’s population towards physical activity and exercise. A balance of healthy eating and healthy activity both contribute to an overall healthy lifestyle.

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Excess consumption of sodium in through the modern diet is an increasing concern across the globe as it can lead to health issues such as heart disease, stomach cancer and hypertension. Convenience foods such as candy and pizza are more often than not found to be high in sodium – options that are relied upon by modern society. That, alongside being carcinogens, is one of the main reasons why processed meats and other high-sodium, high-fat, high-sugar foods have been given the boot from dietary consumption guidelines.

Image Credit: The Flemish Institute of Healthy Life