Human diet is causing 'catastrophic' damage to the planet


Reducing red meat consumption to half a rasher of bacon a day and eating more nuts will help avert climate change, scientists say.

Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has come out swinging in response to the publication of a controversial scientific report outlining what it claims are "healthy diets" from sustainable food systems.

The average person's daily diet will need to change drastically during the next three decades to make sure everyone is fed without depleting the planet, a panel of experts has concluded.

At the same time, people will need to double the amount of plant-based foods they eat, including nuts, fruits, vegetables and legumes, experts said.

"More than 800 million people have insufficient food, while many more consume an unhealthy diet that contributes to premature death and disease", said Walter Willett of Harvard University.

When it comes to poultry, it suggests an intake of just 29g per day, or a 69% cut back on our consumption of these products.

For three years, 37 experts from 16 countries have been working on the report released onWednesday.

Complying with the diet would mean people in the United Kingdom slashing their meat consumption by 80%, free-market think tank The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) said.

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Prof Rockström added: "Sustainability of the food system must therefore be defined from a planetary perspective".

Providing healthy diets from sustainable food systems is an immediate challenge as the population continues to grow - projected to reach 10 billion people by 2050 -and get wealthier with the expectation of higher consumption of animal-based foods.

"Agriculture priorities need to shift", said commission member Jessica Fanzo, an associate professor of global food and agricultural policy at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics in Baltimore.

They say a billion people are already malnourished, and another two billion are eating too numerous wrong foods.

For individual regions, this could mean even more dramatic changes: People in North America, for example, eat nearly 6.5 times the recommended amount of red meat, while people in South Asia eat only half the amount suggested by the planetary diet.

"The world's diets must change dramatically".

Adults should also eat around 300g of fresh vegetables a day, which should include equal amounts of green, leafy vegetables such as cabbage, red and orange vegetables such as carrots and tomatoes and other vegetables.

Whitney Linsenmeyer, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, noted that the diet recommended by the commission is "mostly consistent" with the current dietary guidelines recommended by the US Department of Agriculture.