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

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

To be published online on Thursday, Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT-Lancet Commission on Healthy Diets for Sustainable Food Systems also links nutritional targets with environmental sustainability.

Agriculture must to be redirected to focus on these new food goals, which will put less stress on the environment, researchers 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", said Tim Lang, of City, University of London in the UK.

In other words, the "planetary health diet" is comprised of 50 percent fruits and vegetables and 50 percent a mix of plant protein, plant oils, and whole grains.

The report also recommends that people eat just 29g of chicken each day, 250g of dairy (about one glass of milk) and just over one egg per week.

Shifting to a healthier, more sustainable diet could also prevent11 million premature deaths per year by 2050, scientists claim. Regarding the human diet, the Trust added: "Humans have evolved as red meat eaters and, providing this is part of a balanced diet, beef and lamb provide superior types of protein and fat to plant sources".

"We can no longer feed our population a healthy diet while balancing planetary resources", offers the study's introductory notes.

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

Alan Dangour, Professor in Food and Nutrition for Global Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: "Many of the important policy recommendations in the Commission cut across the portfolios of traditional government departments, such as agriculture and environment, health, trade, worldwide development in the United Kingdom, and will be challenging to implement in many countries".

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"The world's diets must change dramatically".

For Ireland, the food and drink industry is worth approximately €12 billion, and this is heavily contributed to by beef and dairy production.

'We need a significant overhaul, changing the global food system on a scale not seen before. Current UK Government guidelines suggest we should eat 70g of red meat a day, with average population intake in the UK now below this figure.

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

He pointed out that red meat contains an efficient package of essential nutrients important for the body and any suggestion that we should further reduce our intake below the recommenced government levels "could have unintended detrimental consequences on health". All countries are eating more starchy vegetables (potatoes and cassava) than recommended, with intakes ranging between 1.5 times above the recommendation in South Asia and by 7.5 times in Sub-Saharan Africa.

NFU vice president Stuart Roberts, however, said the global report needed to be looked at "through a local lens", and went on to defend the role of red meat within diets.

The report lays out global targets for what constitutes a healthy diet, based on an average intake of 2,500 calories a day.

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

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