This is the abstract of a study published by the“National Institute of Public Health and the Enviroment” – Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports de Holanda (RIVM Letter Report 350123001/2011) – Autor: M.J. Tijhuis y otros.

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A diet with less meat and dairy products and more plant-based foods can provide enough protein, minerals and vitamins as long as there is a varied plant selection. The main sources of vegetable protein are nuts, legumes and whole grains. Currently the consumption of legumes and nuts as substitutes for meat is low. Prepared meat and dairy substitutes can be a source of some vitamins and minerals (iron, calcium, vitamins B2 and B12). Especially vitamin B12, which cannot be obtained from plants.

The RIVM (National Institute of Public Health and Environment of the Netherlands) has carried out a study on the nutritional consequences of a change from a traditional carnivorous diet to one based on sustainable plants rich in protein. It focused on proteins, amino acids, and certain micronutrients. In the Netherlands, meat and dairy products account for half of the protein in the diet. Generally, these people do not consume meat but dairy products. Its main source of protein is dairy and cereals.

Meat and dairy products are the main source of vitamins A, B1, B2 to B12 and the minerals calcium, iron, phosphorus, selenium and zinc. Further studies are needed to quantify the effects of different diets in which the intake of meat and dairy products is reduced.


Substitution of meat and dairy for more sustainable sources of protein in the Netherlands – Quality of the diet

A reduction in the consumption of foods rich in animal proteins is a possible and unavoidable way to reduce the negative impact of human behavior on the environment. In this report, the nutritional consequences of a change from a diet based on animal consumption to one based on plant proteins and insects are studied. It is focused on proteins, amino acids, certain micronutrients and allergens.

Animal foods contain high-quality protein. Plant-based foods with the highest protein content are legumes, nuts and substitutes for meat and dairy products. These are made with wheat, soybeans, rice, peas,tramuces, or a combination of these. They also contain varying amounts of animal products such as chicken and milk protein. Soybeans and lupins, more than other plants, have high quality amino acids.

According to the Dutch National Food Consumption Survey (DNFCS), most of the proteins consumed are mainly of animal origin, dairy products and cereals. In general, the population complies with the recommendations for protein intake and nutritionally there are possibilities of replacing proteins of animal origin with proteins of plant origin. People who according to the survey do not eat meat, take much of their protein from cereals and dairy products. Legumes and nuts are not commonly consumed in the Netherlands today. Increasing your consumption of other plant-based protein sources would be very beneficial.

This would ensure quality protein, especially by reducing meat and dairy intake.

Some of the micronutrients that are currently taken when eating meat and dairy products and that could pose a problem when reducing their consumption are heme, iron, selenium, vitamin B1, vitamin B12, zinc (meat), and calcium, vitamin B2 , vitamin B12, phosphorus, vitamin A and zinc (dairy).

Intake of vitamin A, vitamin B1, iron, and zinc is currently low in some population subgroups. Legumes, nuts and whole grains can contribute to a significant increase in your consumption, especially when the intake of dairy products is also reduced. Preparations of substitutes for meat and dairy products can in a simple way to ensure that enough iron, calcium, vitamin B2 and especially vitamin B12 are taken; which cannot be obtained from foods of plant origin.

No cases of allergies have been described when proteins of animal origin are replaced by proteins of plant origin.