A healthy and sustainable diet in the Netherlands

This poster shows the exact amounts per week for the average person in the Netherlands to meet all nutrional needs in a sustainable way. The numbers are based on 2000 kcal per day and come from WWF research.

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At Fork Ranger, we always talk about eating ‘less meat’ as the first step of a sustainable diet, but what does this mean in practice? What is a sustainable amount of meat and dairy? That’s what this poster is about!

We’ve noticed that a lot of people become perfectionists when eating sustainably – they have the feeling it’s never ‘good enough’. With this poster, we want to show what 'good enough' really looks like.

WWF Netherlands published a report which shows exactly what a healthy and sustainable diet looks like for the average Dutch citizen. We asked for their specific numbers and translated them into this poster.

🍴 What is Fork Ranger?

We're a startup with the mission of making it as easy as possible to eat sustainably. We translate the science into digestible facts and easy recipes.

At the bottom of this page you'll find our products and we also have a free app.

Check out our website to learn more.

🧐 What's the background story: why was the poster created?

Once you're motivated to eat sustainably, it can be hard to not get lost in all the facts. And also it can feel as if it's never 'good enough'. We created this poster to help you imagine what you are trying to achieve. It should provide guidance but also a feeling of 'when I reach this, I can be satisfied, it's good enough'.

🤓 How was the research conducted?

The study created a diet for adults (18-50y) that:

a) stays within the planetary boundaries. This means there are acceptable impacts of our food production on biodiversity, nitrogen and phosphate emissions, land use, water use, and climate change.

b) is healthy. Expertise from the Gezondheidsraad and Voedingscentrum has been taken into account.

c) is acceptable and doesn't deviate too much from the current Dutch diet.

For the full report, have a look here.

🌱Is this the only healthy and sustainable diet?

No, the shown diet was created to meet sustainability and health goals while staying as close as possible to the current Dutch diet. 

Some diets include more plant-based products and less or no animal-based products than this diet, like a vegetarian or vegan diet, which can also be sustainable and healthy.

In a vegetarian diet, it easily happens to substitute meat with more dairy products, which also have quite a climate impact, especially cheese. So it's not automatically better for the climate than eating sometimes small amounts of meat. As you can see this poster shows low amounts of dairy which is also important in a climate-friendly vegetarian diet.

Voedingscentrum published this page about vegetarian diets and this page about vegan diets, to show how they can meet their nutritional needs.

🛒 Why does it look so little?

A lot of us live together with other people which means we might shop for multiple people. That's why the amounts could feel 'little' compared to what we see when we go grocery shopping.

🥦 How should I interpret the amounts? Which ones are exact depictions and which ones are suggestions?

For most of the foods shown on the poster, the studied foods are shown exactly. However, for some foods, only groups of food products were analyzed so the exact amounts of the group are shown and we've provided a suggestion how that could look like.

Fridge

  • Eggs (exact)
  • Quark (exact)
  • Yoghurt (exact)
  • Meat alternatives (tofu and veggie burger are suggestions)
  • Dairy alternatives (exact)
  • Buttermilk (exact)
  • Custard (exact)
  • Cheese (exact)
  • Margarine (exact)
  • Half iceberg lettuce (suggestion)
  • Rucole (suggestion)
  • Fruit juice (exact)
  • Milk (exact)
  • Beef (exact)
  • Pork (exact)
  • Fish and sea fruits (exact)
  • Ice-cream (exact)
  • Peas (suggestion among Fruits & Vegetables)

Shelves

  • Peanut/peanutbutter (exact)
  • Vegetable oils (exact)
  • Other nuts (exact)
  • Strawberries (exact)
  • Legumes (exact)
  • Other grains (exact)
  • Whole wheat rice (exact)
  • Apples (exact)

Countertop

  • Candy, sugar and chocolate (suggestions shown)
  • Snacks and sauces (suggestions shown)
  • Coffee (exact)
  • Whole wheat pasta (exact)
  • Fruits & vegetables (suggestions shown)
  • Bread (exact)
  • Buns (exact)
  • Potatoes (exact)
🐓 Why is there no chicken included?

There’s one thing in particular that might be a bit strange for Fork Ranger followers: the poster shows 75 grams of beef per week and no chicken! What?!

There’s a simple reason: the poster includes quite a bit of dairy because that’s closest to what we currently eat in the Netherlands. But when you produce dairy you also get a bit of beef. In the research, they prioritized eating this ‘by-product’ over lower-impact chicken.

The same holds true for eggs – you also get a bit chicken meat from having hens – but it was so little (14 g per week) that we decided to leave it out.

 

👀 Is there a difference between the recommended diets for men and women?

The poster shows the averages for men and women, but there are some slight differences.

In the study the diet for women was in total 1760 kcal per day and the diet for men 2330 kcal per day.

For most of the products you'll find that the recommended amounts for women are a little lower than shown on the poster, and for men a little higher, except for the following foods:

  • Cheese - men 21 g/week and women 147 g/week
  • Red meat (beef, pork) - men 14 g/week and women 133 g/week 
  • Eggs - men 49g/week and women 147 g/week

The reason for this is higher recommended intake of iron for women.

💪 What should I eat if I need more kcal each day?

As this poster shows average, you might not be an average person. Some people simply need more energy and of course that's allowed! If you need more kcal each day, keep the following in mind: eat more plants, and less animals.

🔄 What are the biggest changes compared to the current Dutch diet?

For this sustainable diet 'acceptance' was one of the factors that was included, meaning the new sustainable diet shouldn't include amounts beyond 33-150% of the current diet.

The biggest changes are:

  • The amount of meat is lower, but still, a little bit is included
  • The amount of cheese is lower, but still, a little bit is included
  • The amount of nuts is higher
  • The amount of legumes is higher
  • The amount of oils is lower
  • More whole-grain instead of refined

Is your question not listed here? Feel free to contact us: mareike@forkranger.com.

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How to eat this in a week: here's our suggested week menu!

A lot of Dutch people eat muesli with yogurt or milk for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch. That's still possible with these foods, although we can't afford to eat a cheese sandwich everyday.

The hardest change for most people is probably with cooking dinner. So, what could that look like?

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One portion of each of these recipes gives a total of:

🍚60 g rice (recommended 105 g) - great, in balance with a bit more pasta

🍝362,5 g pasta (recommended 329 g) - close enough

🥔375 g potatoes (recommended 431 g) - great, in balance with a bit more pasta

🥜137,5 g nuts (recommended 259 g) - eat some more peanut butter sandwiches!

🫘100 g legumes (recommended 133 g) - eat some more hummus sandwiches!

🥦1805 g vegetables (recommended 1579 g) - no harm in more vegetables

🍐90 g fruits (recommended 1246 g) - eat some fruits as snack and add to your muesli

🧀50 g cheese (recommended 84 g) - still one cheese sandwich to go for lunch

🥛100 g dairy alternatives (recommended 200 g) - use some more for baking!

🌱93,75 g meat alternatives (recommended 221 g) - easy to add some more to one of the recipes

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