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Meat and Dairy Should Be Treated Like Big Tobacco, Says Scientists

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The meat and dairy industries must be treated like the Big Tobacco industry — scrapped and redirected to healthier options, according to scientists.

According to The Global Syndemic of Obesity, Undernutrition, and Climate Change report at the scientific journal The Lancet, “Big Food” must be treated like “Big Tobacco” and that industry leaders must be barred from lobbying governments as their pleas and interference have a negative effect on people and the planet.

The publication’s new commission, which follows a 3-year project by 43 interdisciplinary experts from 14 countries, focuses on public health and claims that “malnutrition in all its forms, including obesity, undernutrition, and other dietary risks, is the leading cause of poor health globally.”

The report also emphasizes that the worsening climate change issues will negatively affect people’s health and that people must move toward consuming largely plant-based diets.

“National dietary guidelines serve as a basis for the development of food and nutrition policies and public education to reduce obesity and undernutrition and could be extended to include sustainability by moving populations towards consuming largely plant-based diets,” said the report.

“However, many countries’ efforts to include environmental sustainability principles within their dietary guidelines failed due to pressure from strong food industry lobbies, especially the beef, dairy, sugar, and ultra-processed food and beverage industry sectors.”

“Only a few countries (ie, Sweden, Germany, Qatar, and Brazil) have developed dietary guidelines that promote environmentally sustainable diets and eating patterns that ensure food security, improve diet quality, human health and wellbeing, social equity, and respond to climate change challenges.”

The Acorn
Image: Instagram/The Acorn

The commission’s new report aligns with the new plant-focused diet that scientists claim could save the planet’s future: The Planetary Diet.

The “Planetary Diet,” which was created and developed by scientists at Eat-Lancet Commission, aims to prevent millions of deaths every year and fight climate change.

It encourages people to embrace plant-based protein and proposes a limit to the consumption of animal-based products.

According to the commission’s report that was published in The Lancet this January, the goal of the new science-based diet is to feed 10 billion people worldwide in a healthy and environmentally friendly way by 2050.

“Transformation to healthy diets by 2050 will require substantial dietary shifts,” said Walter Willett, co-chair of Eat-Lancet Commission.

“Global consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes will have to double, and consumption of foods such as red meat and sugar will have to be reduced by more than 50 per cent.”

The scientists claim that the new plant-forward diet is a win-win because it would save at least 11 million people from deaths caused by unhealthy diet while fighting climate change and other environmental issues.

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Roxanne Libatique

Written by Roxanne Libatique

Roxanne is a vegan journalist and advocate for animal rights and mental health. She tries to live consciously and spends her free time traveling, enjoying vegan food, volunteering, and speaking up for all animals. Connect with her at @roxlibatique on Twitter and Instagram.

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