In order to propel the Netherlands toward a more sustainable food system and improve public health, the Council for the Environmental Infrastructure, an independent advisory board that provides advice on the outlines of policy, released a new report that asks the government and parliament to be more proactive in helping people cut back on meat consumption.
Over the past 40 years, industrialized animal agriculture has dominated our food system. In recent years, factory farming has moved to the forefront of a growing number of studies and discussions about the negative impact that the industry has on the environment.
The Council notes that the Netherlands has already taken a number of steps to ensuring a more sustainable future, such as signing on for the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Another method involves supporting the country’s growing demand for plant-based food. In a report titled Agenda for a Safe, Healthy, and Sustainable Food System, the Dutch outlined its plans to implement a new food policy based on the “engagement and integration of various players in the food chain,” likely referring to the integration of new plant-based food products.
The Council also referred to the Dutch Dietary Guidelines 2015 in order to support their recommendation that citizens cut back on meat. Per the current guidelines, “a dietary pattern involving more plant-based food and less animal-based food is desirable,” particularly due to the link between the consumption of animal products and increased risk of heart disease, certain types of cancer, diabetes, and other diseases.
“A healthier diet will have a positive impact on the costs of healthcare, while a more sustainable diet will benefit the natural and human environment,” the Council wrote.
Researchers for the agenda noted that “an active role of the government is required, and cooperation with the agricultural sector, businesses, citizens, and social organizations is necessary” in order to make a more plant-based food system work.
The Council supports this, noting that “by anticipating these changes [to the food system] in good time, a number of interrelated problems can be addressed. This ensures that the transition will result in a healthier and more sustainable human environment for citizens, a healthier and more sustainable diet for consumers, as well as a more favorable long-term economic outlook for the parties in the food chain.”
“The emerging demand for healthier, more sustainable food is a promising development,” the Council wrote. “A shift in production and consumption from animal to vegetable proteins seems inevitable if we want to create a healthier and more sustainable food system.”