A global diet
Published by the Visayan Daily Star
Editor-in-Chief & President
Bureau Chief, Dumaguete
MAJA P. DELY
|CARLOS ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA
A consortium of three dozen researchers published a paper in The Lancet that concluded the human race must radically change the way it produces and consumes food to avoid millions of deaths and “catastrophic” damage to the planet.
According to the EAT-Lancet Commission that complied the 50-page study, the key to both goals is a dramatic shift in the global diet which involves cutting consumption of sugar and red meat by half and doubling the intake of vegetables, fruits and nuts.
Nearly a billion people are currently hungry and another 2 billion are eating too much of the wrong foods, causing epidemics of obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Additionally, the most recent Global Disease Burden report says unhealthy diets account for up to 11 million avoidable premature deaths every year.
At the same time, the global food system is the single largest emitter of greenhouse gases, the biggest driver of biodiversity loss, and the main cause of deadly algae blooms along coasts and inland waterways. Agriculture, which has transformed nearly half the planet’s land surface, also uses up about 70 percent of the global fresh water supply. The researches zeroed in on cattle farming which produces massive quantities of planet-warming methane, cuts down huge swathes of forests to make room for grazing land, and consumes at least five kilos of grain to produce a kilo of meat.
“To have any chance of feeding 10 billion people in 2050 within planetary boundaries” – the limits of Earth’s capacity to absorb human activity – “we must adopt a healthy diet, slash food waste, and invest in technologies that reduce environmental impacts,” said co-author Johan Rockstrom, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Change Impact Research.
The study called for a “great food transformation” that involves a drastic reduction of meat and dairy and major increase in plant consumption.
The diet recommended by the researchers will require a drastic lifestyle change for many members of the human race, especially among rich and emerging nations. However, its impact on our health and that of our planet is also something worth considering. We can start by assessing our current lifestyles and diets to see if it is possible to adopt this recommendation that could change our world for the better.*