The famously food loving French have been urged by a health watchdog to go “flexitarian” by cutting down on meat and fish in order to save their their waistlines and their money.
Beouf Bourguignon, Confit de Canard, Coq au vin… the list of famous French dishes containing meat is a long one and explains why France is a meat loving nation where vegetarians often feel out of place.
But a new report by WWF France is urging French people to cut down on viande and eat more legumes.
Essentially WWF France is urging people to adopt a flexitarian diet, meaning “semi-vegetarian” as some call it, where nothing is forbidden but meat intake is cut down.
Dramatically cutting down on meat and fish and eating more vegetables is not only the best option for people’s health, but also for their wallets given that it is cheaper and most significantly better for the planet as a whole, says WWF France.
To put together a suggested diet for the French the NGO took as a starting point the average weekly shopping basket of a family of four (two adults, two children) estimated at €190 a week.
WWF France said this basket should be made up of roughly two thirds vegetable protein and one third animal protein, which in reality would mean a drop of 30 percent in the amount of meat purchased and a cut of 40 percent for the amount of fish bought.
By not buying so much beef, lamb and veal the French would find they save more than a few euros each week.
But to compensate the amount of vegetables in that shopping basket should increase by 50 percent.
French urged to follow perfect diet and there’s no room for saucisson
The good news for the French cheese and yoghurt lovers is that WWF France said these dairy products don’t need to be cut back.
The new diet would guarantee nutritional balance, says the NGO and cut the carbon impact by 38 percent.
Shoppers would also save money or if they preferred to spend the €190 then WWF France says they will be able to spend their savings on organic or better quality products.
It’s not the first time in recent months that the French have been advised to alter their diet.
In January France’s own health watchdog released details of “the perfect diet” to follow and it didn’t make happy reading for fans of saucisson (cold meats) or raclette.
Getting the French to eat less saucisson will be a tough battle to win for the agency, apparently the French munch down 2.2 kilos of saucisson each second, which adds up to a total of 70,000 tonnes a year.
This is not the first attack on saucisson by a health organisation. In October 2015 the World Health Organisation labelled classic Gallic grub like saucisson and jambon as carcinogenic.
That provoked an angry response from some locals.
An 83-year-old Frenchman told The Local that he had survived far worse than an overdose of charcuterie so he wasn’t going to stop eating meat just because the health boffins at the WHO say so.
“I survived World War Two and that didn’t kill me, so to hell with what they say,” said the veteran who asked not to be named.
No need to despair if you love French food, there’s some Gallic grub that is particularly good for you.