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Radical change in diet is needed for humanity and environment

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Scientists say radical change in diet is needed for humanity and the environment

Lots of vegetables, fruit and legumes, a limited amount of chicken and fish and little to no red meat. That is the required diet to ensure that humanity and the environment continue to exist sustainably in the coming years, according to a group of scientists who have been conducting research for three years.

Radical changes in our diet are required to prevent falling life expectancy and permanent damage to the environment, they state in their research that was published in scientific journal The Lancet.

Feeding 10 billion people

According to the group of experts in the field of nutrition, agriculture and the environment, the so-called Eat commission, a healthy and sustainable diet consists largely of vegetables, fruit, whole meal products, legumes, nuts and unsaturated fats and a limited amount of fish and chicken. A diet that should be avoided as much as possible consists of red meat (such as beef and pork), processed meat (salami), added sugars, processed cereals (white rice) and starchy vegetables (potatoes).

"By applying this global food system, we demonstrate that it is possible to feed almost 10 billion people a healthy diet in 2050, that stays within the boundaries of food production", according to the research. The consequences for the climate, fresh water, biodiversity and the nitrogen cycle have been taken into consideration.

According to the committee, the consumption of unhealthy food, such as red meat and added sugar, should decrease on average by more than 50 percent around the world in order to meet the 2050 target. This will result in an increase of more than 100 percent in the consumption of healthy food, such as fruit and vegetables.

"This can only be achieved through large-scale action. A global shift towards a more healthy diet, a sharp decline in food waste and major improvements in food production." A great food revolution is both necessary and feasible ", the committee concludes.

What does the ideal menu in 2050 look like according to the Eat Commission?

The researchers recommend a healthy diet consisting of many grains (232 grams per day), vegetables (300 grams), fruit (200 grams) and potatoes (50 grams). In order for food production for 10 billion people to be feasible, meat consumption must be reduced. We can still eat chicken (29 grams), fish (28 grams), and red meat (14 grams). But most people will, according to the daily menu of the Eat committee, eat less meat than they currently eat.

'One can of coke is one too many'

"Perhaps the recommendations sound obvious, but it quite a bold move that scientists have put their names under a diet, and also link it to climate change", food expert Guido Camps responds in the NOS Radio 1 News. He has a PhD from Wageningen University.

"The question is whether politicians will come forward to say: you cannot eat this and that anymore." That is still a difficult task, he thinks. "For example, the commission talks about a maximum of 30 grams of sugar per day. That's less than the amount of sugar in just one can of coke."

According to Camps, bad eating habits have become normal. “You used to eat just eat cake if it was someone’s birthday. Nowadays sweets and other unhealthy snacks are available everywhere, which leads to problems for our health on the one hand and, on the other hand, scientists state that our food production is not sustainable. "

So is this a task for politicians? "I do not see who else can tackle this issue," says Camps. "If you leave it to the market and give people what they want, obesity numbers will continue to rise and people will continue eating a lot of meat, but if we look at current measures being taken we see that politicians are struggling to intervene."

Source: This article was published in Dutch by on 17-01-2019


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