Encouraging people to eat less meat and more fruit and veg may prevent 26million premature deaths every year, scientists say. Edinburgh University researchers want people to eat 350 calories of meat, dairy, and fish every day — the equivalent of around one large chicken breast.
They estimate people in G20 countries eat about 620 calories of animal products on average, roughly the same as two large beef burger patties. People should also try to consume 720 calories of fruit and vegetables, the experts claimed. For example, an apple, banana, and two peppers have around 100 calories each.
One large chicken breast a day and mostly plant-based diet ( Urdu )
The shake-up of eating habits would reduce deaths related to obesity, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, they say. Experts behind the proposal — who also recycle the disputed argument that cutting back on meat is good for the environment — claim policymakers should use Covid recovery plans to push people to eat healthier.
Aimen Sattar, one of the researchers involved in the study, said the analysis shows the ‘dramatic benefit’ of improving diets.
A poor diet — eating too much salt and not enough whole grains, fruit, vegetables, omega-3, nuts, and seeds — is thought to cause 11 million deaths globally per year from illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, and colorectal cancer. Cutting meat consumption has also been linked to staving off an early death.
The Edinburgh academics modeled four different Covid recovery scenarios, which looked at the impact of including policies designed to promote healthier diets.
The findings, published in the journal The Lancet Planetary Health, claim to show a shift toward a more plant-based diet could prevent 2,583 premature deaths per million people by 2060. With the world’s population set to exceed 10 billion by that year, this would mean up to 26million fewer deaths in 2060 alone.
Under this strategy, people consumed 2,400 calories a day — with 820 coming from whole grain foods such as wheat and corn. Another 720 came from fruit and veg, with 350 from animal products such as beef, chicken, and eggs.
The rest came from oils and pulses, sugar, and starchy roots, such as potatoes. By comparison, recovery plans focusing solely on restoring economic activity to pre-pandemic levels could lead to an extra 780 deaths per million people by 2060 — the equivalent of nearly 8 million each year.
This model assumed people roughly stuck to historic diets, consisting of 2,600 calories a day, largely from whole grain products (900), animal products (620), and oil and pulses (492).
The calculations also showed that the transition to healthier diets also reduced nitrogen fertilizer use by 40million tonnes and water for fields by 400 square kilometers. This is because eating less meat means less land is used for farming and animal feed, while low-meat diets also reduce the loss of biodiversity and natural land, the researchers claimed.
Mr. Sattar, a Ph.D. student involved in the research, said: ‘The Covid recovery stimulus packages present an opportunity to reduce the impact of the food system on some of the most urgent global challenges.’ As a guide, the NHS says an average man needs 2,500 calories daily to maintain a healthy weight. For an average woman, that figure is around 2,000 a day. source