Home Healthy Diets Following the Mediterranean diet would reduce greenhouse gases by 72% – CVBJ

Following the Mediterranean diet would reduce greenhouse gases by 72% – CVBJ

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11/04/2021 at 12:05 CET

Following the Mediterranean diet can be a strategic element to combat climate change, which, in the Spanish context, can facilitate a reduction of up to 72% of greenhouse gases, 58% of land use, 52% of the energy consumption and 33% of water consumption.

This has been explained by Anna Bach, pharmacist, professor in the Nutrition Area of ​​the Health Sciences Studies of the Open University of Catalonia (UOC) and member of Food and Nutrition of the Official College of Pharmacists of Barcelona (COFB), in the framework of the third cycle of # UPCDiálogos Agroalimentarios. “We can no longer talk about healthy eating, we are also interested in making it sustainable”, stated the UOC researcher during the presentation.

The 2017 report Global health effects of dietary risks showed the effects of dietary factors on global health. According to the study, Bach explained, 22% of deaths that occur in the world can be attributed to a food cause and correspond to three factors: “High salt intake, low consumption of whole grains and fruit.”

The substitution of fruit, vegetables and whole grains for processed products with a high sugar content produces harmful effects on health, with the development of chronic and cardiovascular diseases.

In this sense, public health researchers have identified the food transition, which has occurred, above all, in urban populations and eminently among young people of low socioeconomic status.

The group has gone from consuming products such as cereals, vegetables and plant elements – which have a low environmental impact – to an increased consumption of proteins of animal origin, with a higher ecological impact. Consequently, Bach added, there has been an increase in the “consumption of empty calories, based on refined cereals, alcohol and fat”, a fact that conditions health.

The current model is unsustainable

The researcher from the FoodLab group of the UOC has emphasized that “what we put on the plate is important both for health and also for environmental reasons.”

Therefore, the current model would be unsustainable, because they are “exceeding planetary limits,” he warned. The health of people cannot be separated from the health of the planet, so that food sustainability is a problem of the first order for the continuity of the human species.

In this sense, Bach has cited an article in The Lancet of 2013, GBD Risk Factor Collaborators, in which it is pointed out that 14% of greenhouse gases come from livestock, and 30% have to do with the food system far from sustainability criteria.

That is why the researcher has defended the need to align eating habits with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): “The diet must take into account both health and the environment; we are interested in taking into consideration not only production, but also consumption ”.

Food weighs more than transport in climate change

Bach recalled that often “when we think about climate change, transport comes to mind, but food still weighs more”. The researcher has commented that we must bear in mind that a third of what we eat ends up in the garbage, and one of the objectives should be to reduce this waste by 50%.

Reducing the consumption of animal products can also contribute to the goal of sustainable development: “We know that animal products use much more resources and energy than those of plant origin in terms of land use, water, greenhouse gases: twenty vegetable dishes are equivalent to one meat dish in terms of emissions ”.

The researcher has pointed out that it is important to “re-educate the consumer” to adopt eating habits that prioritize products of plant origin on the plate, whether through the Mediterranean, flexitarian, vegan or vegetarian diet.

Young people, ready for change

According to statistics from the 2019 Creating a Sustainable Food Future report from the World Resources Institute, 60% of the millennial generation is willing to change, a positive aspect. “If we adopt a Mediterranean diet pattern, we will save many resources, but if we go towards a more western and Americanized pattern, we will have an increase in environmental indicators,” Bach warned.

Consumers must be guided, accordingly, to base their diet on products of plant origin, reduce excess consumption of red and processed meat, consume sustainably sourced fish, seasonal and local produce, and reduce food waste and packaging waste.

Researchers in nutrition and public health work on models and strategies; There has even been talk of “a planetary plate”, explained Bach. One of the lines of research to find solutions to the problem, which UOC researchers have put on the table, is “the consumption of insects, not to replace meat, but to have a safe, healthy and sustainable alternative protein”, which it would allow “a reduction in the ecological footprint compared to many of the conventional animal proteins.”

“Entomophagy (eating insects), in the future, can help ensure that everyone on the planet has access to affordable food, healthy and sustainable; and for now, recovering our Mediterranean diet can also help us to achieve these goals, ”added Bach.

It may interest you: New trend: eat insects to save the planet



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