Climate change: the diet that is supposed to save the world

The way to the climate targets leads to less meat

If, on the other hand, all people were to eat more plant-based food and emissions from all other sectors were to be stopped, the world would have a 50 percent chance of reaching the climate target of 1.5 degrees. And if not only the diet itself were changed, but some other things were also improved – for example, less food was wasted – the chance of achieving the goal would increase to 67 percent.

Such findings are unpopular in the meat industry. For example, when the US Department of Agriculture revised its nutritional guidelines in 2015, as it did every five years, those responsible briefly considered including the environment at the request of researchers in this area. However, the idea was discarded supposedly in response to industry pressuressays Timothy Griffin, a food systems scientist at Tufts University in Boston who previously tried to convince the department. Nonetheless, the attempt was noted. “The greatest achievement is that the issue of sustainability has received a lot of attention,” he says.

The EAT Lancet Commission, funded by the UK charity Wellcome, bolstered the case. Nutritionists evaluated the literature and developed a concept for a healthy diet from whole foods. Then the team set environmental limits for nutrition, including carbon emissions, loss of biodiversity, and the use of freshwater, land, nitrogen and phosphorus. Crossing such environmental limits could make the planet inhospitable to humans.

Is sustainable nutrition practicable for everyone?

The result was a varied, mainly plant-based menu. The maximum amount of red meat that a 30-year-old who is consuming 2500 calories a day can eat in a week is 100 grams, i.e. one serving of red meat. That’s less than a quarter of what the average American ingests. Ultra-processed foods such as soft drinks, frozen meals, and reconstituted meat, sugar, and fats are largely avoided.

The Commission estimates that this diet would save the lives of around 11 million people each year. “It is possible to feed ten billion people healthily without further destroying ecosystems,” says Tim Lang, researcher on food policy at the City University of London and co-author of the EAT Lancet report. “Whether the hardliners in the cattle and dairy industry like it or not, they really are at a loss. Change is inevitable now. “

Many scholars believe that the EAT Lancet Diet works well in affluent countries, where the average person eats 2.6 times more meat than people in low-income countries and whose eating habits are unsustainable. Others doubt that the diet is nutritious enough for people in countries with fewer resources. Ty Beal, a Washington DC-based scientist with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, analyzed diet in unpublished calculations and found that it was 78 percent of the recommended zinc and 86 percent of calcium intake for people over 25 years of age and only 55 percent of the iron requirement for women of childbearing age.

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