Article was originally published Forskning.no.
New dietary recommendations will be accepted next week.
Over 400 researchers have conducted new research on food, health and nutrition. Councils have gone out for advice, and one council in particular has drawn attention.
Now we only eat 350 grams of red meat per week. The previous dietary advice had an upper limit of 500g per week.
The new advice allows, for example, one sausage, two slices of ham on a slice of bread and one medium steak a week.
The expert group behind the new advice wants to cut back on red meat for sustainability reasons.
– The new scheme for dietary advice on red meat is a far cry from people’s eating habits today. It’s unrealistic to think that people will change their eating habits so drastically, says Annesen Bahr Bucke. He is a food historian and researcher at Oslomet.
We eat a lot of red meat
Half of us eat meat for dinner three times a week or more. According to Bahr Bucke, 200 grams of meat is recommended for dinner per person.
Three meat dinners are around 600g per week, which is more than recommended in the new and old dietary guidelines.
But many eat more than three meat nights. We buy a sausage with meat and fly on a piece of bread. In 2019, Norwegians ate an average of 113 grams of red meat every day, according to Bahr Bugge. That’s almost 800 grams per week.
To cut 350g of red meat a week, we need to approach the dinner plate we had in the 1950s, says Svenung Grimsby. He researches innovations in the food industry at Nofima.
– We’ve already managed that. In 1955, each Norwegian ate an average of 35 kilograms of meat per year. 20 kilograms less meat per year than today. Then we don’t have a protein deficiency, says Grimsby.
We eat traditional vegetarian food
Recently, Agriculture Minister Sandra Porch (SP) said that a dinner without meat is not a dinner. But vegetarian feasts have a long tradition in this country.
– She forgets that we have tomato soup, pancakes and porridge for dinner. Additionally, Bahr Bucke says many people have had Meatless Mondays since its inception 20 years ago.
– Grimsby says Agriculture Minister not out of today’s food policy.
A typical taco feast is about 100 grams of minced meat per person. In the Grimstad family, they calculate 70 grams.
– At our house, we use 400 grams of patty dough for six people on Taco Friday. It’s not a radical change, says Grimsby.
More lentils and beans
We don’t want the researchers behind the new dietary guidelines to replace white meat like lamb and turkey with goat, pork and cattle. We should eat more plant-based foods like peas, beans, and lentils.
These are common ingredients in vegan burgers and meat substitutes.
That won’t happen, Grimsby believes.
– We don’t want to replace red meat with plant-based meat alternatives, but instead eat more potatoes and vegetables, says Grimsby.
Annesen Bahr Bucke doesn’t think there will be many more vegetarians.
– Interest in veganism has been increasing over the years, but the curve has flattened in the last three years. Now 21 percent say they are somewhat or very interested in a vegetarian diet.
Four percent never eat meat, and seven percent rarely
The majority of people in this country – nine out of ten – eat both meat and fish. Seven percent eat meat occasionally. According to the Ipsos Spisefakta 2022 survey, four percent never eat meat.
There are differences in people interested in vegetarianism.
– Girls are more interested than men and young people are more interested than old people. Bahr Bukke says that vegetarians are mostly urban dwellers.
– At the same time, young people eat more meat than older people, especially minced meat and chicken, he says.
Sveinung Grimsby believes that both meat prices and meat shame contribute to lower consumption of red meat.
Meat corruption and meat prices can reduce consumption
– Now many people know about meat shame, I feel it myself, says Grimsby.
– Also, the cost per kg of fruits and vegetables is much lower than meat. Now that food prices are high, people can save on their food budget by eating more greens.
– Food evokes strong emotions and debates. There has been a lot of guilt and shame around food. Now it’s red meat, before it was potatoes and bread, says Bahr Bugge.
– In our studies, according to the researchers, many people say they appreciate meat and meat food.
Bahr Bugge researches ancient cooking methods, ingredients and foods.
– We have a particularly strong relationship with, and are proud of, our traditional dishes such as pork chops, mutton cabbage, fennel loin and gomle, says Bahr Bukke.
For the first time, the environment is included in the Dietary Guidelines
This is the first time that environmental considerations have been included in the Dietary Guidelines. In the past, advice was given based on how different foods affect our health. The researchers behind the advisory assessed how the cultivation, production and processing of food, packaging, shipping, consumption and food waste affect the environment. Apollon.no.
According to Sveenung Grimsby, the food industry takes sustainability seriously.
– They want to be part of the green transition and may take it more seriously than consumers. Also, companies that think about sustainability do better.
If the food industry gets involved, consumers will be offered a better alternative to red meat.
– Both Tine and Nordura have many plant-based options, and more are coming, says Grimsby.
The new dietary guidelines are a joint Nordic initiative and will form the basis of the Directorate of Health’s dietary guidelines for Norway.
In addition to the new recommendation to reduce the amount of red meat, researchers want to eat as little processed red meat as possible. Therefore, instead of increasing consumption of white meat, they recommend more legumes and 500 to 800 grams of vegetables daily.
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