Photo: Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images for Girl Behind the Camera

We want to eat food thatā€™s good for the environment, theoretically. But weā€™re too busy to read every Michael Pollan hardcover or find out exactly which farm our chicken came from. Today thereā€™s good news for us lazy environmental eaters: Just look at the food pyramid, stupid!

A recent study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds that if people from high-income nations like the U.S. just followed our governmentsā€™ dietary guidelines, weā€™d not only eat more veggies but would reduce greenhouse gases, the negative impacts of fertilizers, and land use. Thatā€™s because weā€™d consume fewer calories as well as change the composition of our diets toward fewer meat products and more plant-based foods. Lean and greenā€”double win.

The study, conducted by Paul Behrens of the Netherlandsā€™ University of Leiden, examined nationally recommended diets across 37 countries, representing 64 percent of the global population. He found that while most nationally recommended diets (a la the U.S.ā€™s MyPlate program) make plenty of nutritional sense, ā€œlittle or no attention is placed on the environmental impacts within NRDs.ā€ So, itā€™s cool to see that these guidelines also accidentally happen to be good for the earth.

But such is not the case in lower-income nations, where most people donā€™t eat a lot of meat. Their diets are already quite eco-friendly, so adopting their governmentsā€™ recommended nutritional plans would actually lead to an increase in animal-derived foods and their associated greenhouse gas emissions. The answer, as always, lies in a balance. We at The Takeout believe all food is food, that moderation is key, that high or low food should be celebrated with equal reverence. Sure, you can eat a Giant Junior Bacon Cheeseburger sometimes, but maybe choose an apple for the next couple snacks and revel in your green self righteousness.