Courtesy of Vlaams Instituut Gezond Leven

Bacon and sausage are now included with the likes of candy, soft drinks, fast food, salt and booze.

Mike Pomranz
September 29, 2017

Belgium likes to do things a little bit differently than other parts of the world. The beers are funkier. The fries get dipped in mayo. And the people kind of just speak whatever language they feel like! Apparently, they do their food pyramid a bit differently as well. Earlier this month, the small European nation introduced a brand new food pyramid with some changes that, to American sensibilities, may be eye-opening.

Now, keep in mind, though most of us grew up on the Food Pyramid, the actually gave that old pyramid the boot back in 2011. Since then, the preferred method has been the MyPlate guidelines, which take on the shape of a circular dinner plate. However, what makes Belgium's new food pyramid so noteworthy isn't its shape – which is actually an upside-down pyramid – but where they put the processed meat… which is not on the pyramid at all. Yes, while the top of the pyramid features things like veggies, fruit, healthy proteins such as beans and tofu, grains, olive oil and nuts, and the second tier includes fish, chicken and diary, steak has been relegated all the way down to the bottom point along with butter. And sausage and bacon have been shifted off the pyramid all together, stuck in a sad circle of unhealthiness with the likes of candy, soft drinks, fast food, salt and booze. (No, despite how it sounds, that is not the Belgian circle of awesomeness!)

So why did these processed meats get the boot? "We want to make it clear that we don't need these products," a representative from the Flemish Institute of Healthy Life, which built the pyramid, said according to Quartz. "We don't forbid them, but they should be rather an exception than rule."

Though teasing processed meats out from the rest of the food pyramid might seem like a major step, it's actually reflective of recent global health advice. As you may recall, it's been nearly two years since the World Health Organization decided to classify processed meats as a "Group 1" carcinogen – tossing these products into a category that also includes plutonium. As you may have noticed, plutonium is nowhere to be found on Belgium's new food pyramid graphic, so processed meats might want o be thankful they didn't get the boot all together. Though for the record, you're definitely better off eating bacon than eating plutonium regardless of what dietary advice you follow.

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