Food pyramids are often erroneous, as Americans are well aware. These rough nutritional guidelines for kids have been lumping foods together in odd categories for quite some time. Bread even used to be part of the largest category of the American food pyramid. But this Belgian iteration of an attempt at nutritional education takes things to a radical level.
In Belgian classrooms all over the country, children will now be warned against eating meat.
The graphic, released by the Flemish Institute of Healthy Life on September 19, places processed meat in a dark red category of foods alongside French fries, pizza, soda, and candy. Regular red meats, such as steak and burgers, are placed in the second worst category, beside fats like butter.
“We want to make it clear that we don’t need these products,” a representative told Flanders Today. Of course, not needing a product is different from it being inherently harmful — which is implied by its placement in a category with sweets and soda.
The pyramid pushes for a plant-based outlook on eating, suggesting a majority of intake be focused on vegetables, tofu, fruit, and carbohydrates like beans and noodles. Fish, lean meats, cheese, and eggs are shoved downward on the pyramid, with butter and red meat sitting below.
Off to the side, separated from the pyramid entirely, is a bubble of “bad” foods (or so the graphic implies). Alcohol, soda, candy, crackers, salt, chocolate, and the aforementioned processed meats are shoved there.
Of course, alcohol and chocolate have both been shown to have health benefits for those who consume them in moderation. Crackers, too, are nutritionally comparable to bread or noodles.
The emphasis of the pyramid seems to be designed to limit sodium — processed meats and fast food are some of the most significant sources of dietary salt. While an excess of salt has been proven risky for heart disease and blood pressure, moderate amounts of sodium are actually good for the body.