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Plant Nutrition: Why do we need them to survive as a species?



The way we eat and produce has become so destructive to the environment and our health that it is now jeopardizing the long-term survival of the human species. An international commission of 37 scientists writes in a sprawling new Lancet . report.

We now have so many interconnected dietary crises – climate change, pollution and food waste, not to mention malnutrition and obesity – that it will be impossible to feed the 10 billion people expected by 2050 if we do not change the researchers drastic changes in our nutrition and agriculture practices.

According to the peer review report titled "Food in the Anthropocene: The EAT Lancet Commission on Healthy Food from Sustainable Food Systems," a new philosophy is needed on how to eat on planet Earth. Although there are big differences in the world, what and how much we consume we are all in this existential crisis.

Which brings us to what appears to be the most controversial aspect of this report: its special dietary advice to ensure that the nutritional needs of all people are met without going beyond the "limits of the planet". To survive as a species, everyone, including you, is said to survive! ̵

1; recommends eating mainly vegetables, cereals, legumes and nuts and limiting the consumption of red meat to one serving per week.


The EAT Lancet Planetary Health Plate of the Commission.
EAT Lancet Commission

. This "planetary health diet," as the authors call it, is a provocative recommendation, especially for those of us in countries (such as the United States) where many people eat several servings of meat every day. It would require a radical redesign of our food culture – priorities for sustainability and collective survival over hedonism and the tradition of food.

So it's no shock that the report rejected something, and not just the usual suspects in the meat industry. increasingly threatened by a modest increase in flexitarism, veganism, and good old-fashioned vegetarianism. Some researchers and physicians have also dealt with some details in nutritional counseling and whether we really know what a healthy diet looks like for all people. Let's go into the details.

Why the EAT Lancet Commission is Driving a Plant-Based Diet

After three years of review, what they say was "the best available evidence of healthy nutrition and sustainable food production" The authors of Lancet identified a set of targets for diet conversion to an average intake of 2,500 calories per day. The initiative was funded by the Wellcome Trust in the UK and the EAT Foundation, the private foundation of the Norwegian billionaires Gunhild and Petter Stordalen.

The goals are, to say the least, ambitious.

In terms of average global consumption, everyone should eat half as much red meat and sugar and twice as many nuts, fruits, vegetables and legumes.

Per person this means about half an ounce of red meat per day or a serving of red meat (a quarter-pound hamburger) per week. The goals are similarly rigorous for other animal products and recommend less than an ounce of white meat (like chicken), an ounce of fish, a quarter of an egg, and 9 ounces of milk a day.


Aims for a planetary health food with possible ranges for a intake of 2,500 calories a day.
EAT-Lancet Commission

According to Walter Willett, Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at Harvard University, and the lead author of the report there is strong evidence of the health benefits of herbal diets. "Our conclusions are based on dozens of randomized controlled feeding trials that show improvements in cardiovascular risk factors, taking in plant-derived protein sources," he wrote in an e-mail.

He cited Predimed and the Lyon Diet Heart Study, two randomized controlled trials (considered "gold standard" for evidence in health research) of the Mediterranean diet, which showed benefits for the risk of cardiovascular disease or overall mortality. The Mediterranean diet, which focuses on olive oil, fish, nuts and fresh produce, is a good example of something that fits well with the nutritional goals of the report, he added. (A solid criticism of the Predimed study can be found in the recent work of Julia Belluz.)

Francesco Branca, head of the Food Division of the World Health Organization, and a Lancet outrigger, the report also broadens in line with WHO recommendations on fats and carbohydrates. He cited a recent systematic review of prospective studies and clinical trials published in the Lancet and found that increasing fiber intake and substituting refined grains with whole grains would be beneficial to human health.

Of course, planetary health food is not just about human health. As Marco Springmann, a University of Oxford researcher and member of the Commission, recently revealed in Nature animal products produce most of the food-related greenhouse gas emissions (72 to 78 percent of total agricultural emissions)). Even the world's largest livestock companies, through efforts such as the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, are saying they must do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollution from the billions of animals they sell to us.

Much of the demand for animal products comes from wealthier countries like the US – where, in 2018, each averaged 222 pounds of red meat and poultry. As the [Lancet reports, we eat far more than our fair environmental share.

The report recognizes that in some contexts, animal husbandry may be beneficial for ecosystems. For vegetable foods, however, each metric has less adverse environmental effects than animal products. "We have estimated that changes in food production processes can reduce greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture by 10 percent in 2050, while increasing the consumption of herbal diets can reduce emissions by 80 percent," he says. So we could help curb climate and pollution by increasing meat and dairy products and grains, legumes and nuts.

Why Some Researchers and Physicians Push Back

According to Stanford's metro-researcher John Ioannidis: Nutrition Science has yet to prove that there is a single set of nutritional guidelines that are as specific as those in the Lancet that all people should follow.

The problem, he says, is that the nutritional studies provided by researchers in support of this "healthy" diet are observational, which means they can not tell us whether has triggered another cause – only that two things are connected. "Much has never been tested in randomized trials and they continue to promote it as if it were solid knowledge," he told Vox via email.

He further stated that the only component of the EAT-Lancet diet that has been studied in large randomized trials is unsaturated versus saturated fats: "Although there is little / modest observed benefit for cardiovascular events, even that seems to be to be driven by the attempts that are not adequately controlled. Sugar and added sugars were evaluated in small randomized trials with mostly unimpressive results.

Others also criticize the dietary recommendations of the report – including doctors and dieticians who are particularly committed to an era of low carbohydrate eating habits when drowning in sugar and refined carbohydrates.

In an article for Psychology Today, Georgia Ede, a psychiatrist and nutritionist, writes that "animal feed is essential for optimal human health," and describes the various ways in which she believes the authors of the EAT Lancet Commission have not Provide sufficient scientific evidence for the nutritional value of a vegetable diet. "For those of us with insulin resistance (also known as 'pre-diabetes'), whose insulin levels tend to rise too high, the carbohydrate-rich diet – based on up to 60 percent of total calorie products – will add ] Fruit and starchy vegetables – is potentially dangerous, "states Ede.


World Resources Institute

What about all the people who are malnourished or do not eat much meat?

As the table shows The World Resources Institute above shows that meat consumption varies widely across countries, and the report finds that many of the world's 1 billion people, who are malnourished, need more animal products in their diet, no less. "In some areas, For example, in rural sub-Saharan Africa and rural South Asia, people do not get enough animal products to meet their k to meet our growing growth needs, "said Jessica Fanzo, a professor at Johns Hopkins. In children, for example, stunting is sometimes associated with low consumption of animal products and other protein-rich foods.

Ultimately, the report's dietary guidance should be flexible and tailored to different crops and food availability. However, there is a clear message for the richer countries where meat consumption is high: we have to go down to 90 percent.

"In the US, Australia, Brazil and some European countries where we consume too much animal products in total, the question is whether we can switch to lower-impact foods such as poultry and legumes? "Fanzo said. "And can we shift this balance so that those who do not get enough will get more animal products to create more balance?"

As we would get there, the authors of the report admit, "Humanity has never wanted to change. The food system is so radical on that scale or speed." However, they note that several countries – including China Brazil, Vietnam and Finland – in recent decades, their food systems have changed rapidly (in some cases, meat consumption is increasing dramatically)), and there may be clues as to how governments can reverse it.

To the world on plant Instead, we could not count on individuals – instead, we would need a wide range of policies – from restricting certain foods to choosing the incentives for food choices .This could mean that unpopular methods such as taxes, Rationing and mandates are required, and researchers are also calling for a global treaty Limiting the political impact of the food industry – under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

If all humans are fed within the borders of the earth, it also means a change in agricultural practices and the reduction of food loss. This is a daunting task, and for most executives it's obviously not a top priority (um, Donald Trump). However, it is time to move, time to sift through the big ambitious ideas like the Lancet and figure out how to eat in a way that does not destroy the planet. Otherwise we could be cooked.


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