Result: Flexitarian diet for Belgians
The study has shown that Belgians can change their diet in a way that it is compatible with international climate targets, meets all nutritional requirements, and is no more expensive than their current diet. The optimised diet is flexitarian, which means that it still contains animal products, such as meat, milk, eggs and fish, but in much smaller quantities. This is also consistent with the government’s guidelines for a healthy diet. For example, eating meat twice a week and dairy three times a week is still possible, and the consumption of eggs will even increase. The optimised diet recommends higher consumption of vegetables, fruits and legumes. The same applies for nuts and grain products, which have a favourable profile in terms of both sustainability and health. In addition, plant-based meat and dairy substitutes, such as tofu, tempeh, vegetarian burgers and soy drinks, feature more prominently in the diet. On the other hand, the consumption of products with a high saturated fat, sugar or salt content, such as biscuits, soft drinks and processed meat, will decrease.
The new dietary pattern would halve the CO2 footprint, from 16.73 CO2 eq/day to 7.95 CO2 eq/day for a family of four. The new diet does not only have the potential to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees, but also limits the expansion of agricultural land, and averts negative impacts on biodiversity. The sustainable and healthy diet contains fewer products of animal origin, and fewer alcoholic drinks, snacks and soft drinks. These products are often relatively expensive, meaning that overall, the new diet is even slightly cheaper than the current one. This leaves room to purchase certified products that stimulate environmental sustainability as well as social responsibility in the production chain.