Officials in Amsterdam recently announced plans to help the city be at least 50% plant-based by 2030. The city plans on doing this by offering healthy and plant-based foods to underprivileged communities and restricting permits for unhealthy food shops such as fast-food restaurants to encourage more healthy options in businesses. Officials hope that by doing so, Amsterdam will be on the route to being 60% plant-based by 2040.
This decision is a response to rising obesity rates in the Netherlands. Currently, 39% of Dutch adults are overweight, as well as 20% of children under 11. It is now estimated that over 62% of adults in the Netherlands will be overweight by 2040 if this rate continues. Amsterdam is taking initiative by banning fast food in schools and even hoping to put into place a sugar tax which would make foods with high concentrations of sugar more expensive than their healthier alternatives such as fruit and nuts.
People all over the world are beginning to realize the health benefits of being plant-based. With Amsterdam taking a step towards introducing better policies to make healthy food more accessible and helping educate citizens to make healthier choices, hopefully, more cities and eventually countries will follow suit. The United States currently is 42.4% overweight, which is almost half of the population, and this is a quickly rising trend. Americans went from being 30.5% overweight to 42.4% in only 17 years. Furthermore, the CDC also reports that the prevalence of severe obesity rose from 4.7% to 9.2% in the same time frame.
I remember being in elementary school in Texas, in line to get a slice of pizza on a Friday; as we were lined up in the cafeteria, there was a poster on the wall showing the food pyramid. The most important food was bread and pasta, and this was an official food pyramid sent to public schools by the USDA. Furthermore, most public schools in the United States to this day don’t talk to kids about nutrition. The obesity epidemic directly results from a lack of education and a lack of resources, which make fast food the most accessible option. The approach the government in Amsterdam is taking is the best way to incite change for healthy eating habits, which have a positive impact on both the people and the planet.
As many of you know, a plant-based diet supports your immune system (a recent study showed that vegans are less likely to suffer from a severe case of COVID if they contract it,) improves gut health due to the higher fiber content, reduce inflammation which also helps with recovery, decrease the risk of cancer, and help the body maintain a healthy weight. What do you think? Should local governments introduce policies that favor plant-based diets?
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Photo by Yoav Aziz on Unsplash