Report urging less meat in global diet 'lacks agricultural understanding'

Report urging less meat in global diet 'lacks agricultural understanding'

Despite increased food production contributing to improved life expectancy and reduction in hunger, infant and child mortality rates and global poverty over the past 50 years, these benefits are now being offset by global shifts towards unhealthy diets high in calories, sugar, refined starches and animal-based foods and low in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds and fish.

The key to both goals is a dramatic shift in the global diet-roughly half as much sugar and red meat, and twice as many vegetables, fruits and nuts.

A considerable increase in plant-based diets is also necessary to ensure the earth's resources do not run out.

Seek global and national commitment to shift toward healthy diets that feature more plant-based foods-including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains-and less animal products.

Daily poultry consumption would be confined to 29g - equivalent to one and a half nuggets - and fish to 28g, a quarter of a medium sized fillet.

Eggs would be restricted to around 1.5 per week.

Professor Tim Lang, one of the authors from City, University of London, said: 'The food we eat and how we produce it determines the health of people and the planet, and we are now getting this seriously wrong.

"While this is unchartered policy territory and these problems are not easily fixed, this goal is within reach and there are opportunities to adapt worldwide, local and business policies".

Findings from the experts are reported in the latest issue of The Lancet medical journal.

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Beef + Lamb New Zealand's Head of Nutrition, Fiona Greig, a registered nutritionist, says "We support a range of healthy dietary patterns with and without meat, however I have concerns that the suggested reduction could have implications for vulnerable groups especially young women who may already be suffering from nutrient deficiencies".

"New Zealand is already adopting numerous strategies recommended by the report's authors including committing to healthy diet goals, reorienting agricultural priorities to producing high quality healthy food in a sustainable way and supporting biodiversity", says Beef + Lamb New Zealand's Chief Insight Officer, Jeremy Baker. Future food production must be intensified sustainably to meet the needs of the growing population within the planetary limits for climate change, biodiversity loss, land and water use, as well as nitrogen and phosphorus cycles.

In the next 31 years, they said the world should aim to halve the current amount of food waste.

Alongside its report, the commission put out a brief (pdf) identifying top takeaways and specific actions that individuals can take to help transform the global food system.

He added that we are, at the minute, in a "catastrophic situation".

A hamburger a week, but no more - that's about as much red meat people should eat to do what's best for their health and the planet, according to a report seeking to overhaul the world's diet.

Not only do cattle pass massive quantities of planet-warming methane, huge swathes of carbon-absorbing forests â€'- mostly in Brazil -â€' are cut down every year to make room for them.

Christopher Snowdon of the Institute of Economic Affairs in London said the report "reveals the full agenda of nanny-state campaigners".

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