LiveWell Project Singles Out Western Diet

The United States isn’t the only country in which food is a hot topic.

In fact, other areas of the globe are looking at the typical Western diet as a “what not to do” when it comes to revamping their own health and nutrition programs. But, are they actually making good recommendations after all?

The World Wildlife Federation [WWF]’s LiveWell United Kingdom project focuses on the food we eat and how it affects ecosystems and our bodies.

Over here in the States, MyPlate was recently introduced as an alternative to the Food Pyramid.

In the UK, the Eatwell plate considers a carbon footprint amongst nutritional value. WWF latched onto this notion with their own LiveWell plate. (Hopefully no bowl-lovers feel left out with all these plates!)

But here’s where it gets sort of counter-intuitive from an animal welfare standpoint: “LiveWell shows that by reducing but not eliminating animal-based proteins from our diet we can meet recommendations for health and emissions reduction targets for 2020.”

On the contrary, other research coming out of Europe says that just dwindling one’s animal protein intake doesn’t go far enough for health or for the environment.

The report on the LiveWell plate is hoping to examine the diets of European countries and help them impact less of the environment while simultaneously eating more healthfully and nutritionally.

“Poor diets are contributing to people’s ill-health. This makes another strong case for changing dietary trends. Unhealthy diets combined with sedentary lifestyles are causing high rates of NCDs such as obesity, type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer.”

Yes, one might agree this is logical. Lack of activity and poor diet have been shown to create the perfect environment for obesity, type II diabetes, heart disease and all kinds of other diseases of affluence. And a lot of these poor diets involve cheap meats and dairy.

Let’s take a look at the LiveWell plate’s recommendation for one of its pilot countries: Spain.

  • “Fruits and vegetables: 5 servings a day.” (Check.)
  • “Dairy: 3 servings a day.” (How is that decreasing consumption?)
  • “Starchy foods at each meal according to appetite.” (What if your appetite wants you to go on a starchaholic diet?)
  • “Meat, fish and eggs: once or twice a day.” (HARDLY a reduction in meat consumption.)
  • “Fat products: limited.” (Good.)
  • “Sweet products: limited.” (Vague, but okay.)
  • “Salty foods (prepared foods, meats, crackers, snacks): limited.” (Just come right out and say processed foods are bad.)
  • “Water: as much as needed during and between meals”  (Push this one a little more. If you don’t think you need it, you might still physically benefit from water.)
  • “Alcohol: more than two standard glasses for women and three for men (wine, beer, champagne or liquor) increases the risk of certain illnesses.” (Fine.)
  • “Physical activity: the equivalent of at least 30 minutes of brisk walking per day for adults…” (I’m glad to see this at least makes it into some official recommendations, unlike in the U.S.)
LiveWell is barely implementing anything progressive, mind-blowing, or really, anything different than most people’s diets. And it’s pretty in line with the good ole’ Western diet, with a high preference for meat and dairy, impacting our health and the environment in such drastic ways that it’s shocking more people aren’t advocating for drastic change.
With LiveWell’s vague wording and passive recommendations, it’s no wonder people have a hard time finding direction when it comes to healthy foods.

Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons, mauricesvay

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