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Eat better and buy better food without paying more

Changing to flexitarian diet would cut expensive meat and prepared foods while increasing plant-based foods

Families can eat better and buy better quality food without increasing the price of their weekly shop by increasing the amount of vegetable protein in their diet.

A study by WWF France and ECO2 Initiative showed that changing to a more ‘flexitarian’ regime, with a third animal protein and two-thirds vegetable protein, would cut meat and fish and, by reducing these expensive items, allow spending on better quality products such as organic or ‘label rouge’.

The study said that an average family of four spent €187 on their weekly food shop – and this could be cut by 20% to allow more spending on better quality foods, with some organic.

A new flexitarian menu – called veggie-vore by some – would see beef, veal, lamb reduced by 30% in the diet, fish by 40%, prepared foods with excess fat, sugar and salt cut by 69% and refined flour products such as bread and pasta cut by 46%.

It would bring in more vegetables, cereals and pulses – doubling their quantities in the diet – plus non-dairy milks such as soya, almond, rice or oat but also slightly increasing the amount of eggs and keeping dairy products at about 15% of the diet.

The flexitarian diet would cut prepared meals to just twice a week instead of daily and meat or fish meals to four instead of six.

WWF France said France had completely changed its eating habits over the past 50 years and was now eating more prepared foods and drinking bottled drinks.

A flexitarian diet would be better for the planet by cutting the carbon impact of the food basket by 38% through reducing highly energy demanding meat products and prepared foods with all their packaging while also cutting prices by 21%, to €147 – allowing spending on better quality products.

For some ideas on what a flexitarian regime would look like, the BBC’s Good Food section has an article by dietitian Emer Delaney, with some recipes. 

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