World Health Organization Withdraws Support of Plant-Rich Diet Following Political Pressure

Image: Pixabay/ Engin Akyurt

The World Health Organization (WHO) has withdrawn its support of the “Planetary Health Diet,” a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in animal products, following political pressure.

In January, a report was published by the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health, the result of 37 scientists from around the globe who teamed up to determine how diet impacts the environment.

The scientists concluded that the way we currently eat is unsustainable, and we would have to drastically cut back on animal products and shift to almost entirely plant foods in order to sustainably feed an expected population of 10 billion people in 2050.

Image credit: Daily Mail

Animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions that all planes, trains, ships and cars in use today, with plant foods only contributing a fraction of that.

EAT-Lancet concluded that a sustainable diet would require people to double their consumption of fruits and vegetables while cutting their consumption of animal products by over 50 percent.

WHO was supposed to sponsor the launch of EAT-Lancet Commission in Geneva, but the UN agency pulled out of the March 28 event, which went ahead, sponsored by the Norwegian government, British Medical Journal reported.

This was after Gian Lorenzo Cornado, Italy’s ambassador to the United Nations, wrote a letter to WHO arguing that a plant-based diet is lacking in nutrition and a danger to human health.

Cornado also stated that not only would a shift to a more plant-centric diet lead to the loss of millions of jobs for people working in animal agriculture, but it would destroy many of the traditional cuisines around the globe.

The ambassador warned that EAT-Lancet “urging for a centralised control of our dietary choices” risked “the total elimination of consumers’ freedom of choice.”

However, the authors of the study say that the EAT-Lancet Commission report is based on the latest science and does not call for centralized control of diet anywhere in the report.

Further, despite Cornado’s claims that a diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in animal products is dangerous for health, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine states that a plant-based diet lowers the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other diseases.

“Humanity now poses a threat to the stability of the planet,” said Prof. Johan Rockström, one of the authors of the EAT-Lancet Report. “[This requires] nothing less than a new global agricultural revolution.”

Experts estimate that the diet recommended by the EAT-Lancet Commission would prevent about 11 million premature deaths; however, it has been highly controversial and has been called unscientific, extreme and radical by many medical professionals.

“The report fails to provide us with the clarity, transparency and responsible representation of the facts we need to place our trust in its authors,” said Georgia Ede, MD, an experienced medical researcher, licensed psychiatrist and columnist for Psychology Today.

“Instead, the Commission’s arguments are vague, inconsistent, unscientific, and downplay the serious risks to life and health posed by vegan diets.”

“If the commissioners are concerned that red meat is dangerous (which is only true on Planet Epidemiology), why not recommend other naturally iron-rich animal foods such as duck, oysters, or chicken liver for these growing young women, as these foods would also provide the complete proteins needed for growth?”

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Paul Ibirogba

Written by Paul Ibirogba

Paul is a former writing teacher turned writer. He loves to travel the world (the southeast Asia region in particular), meet people from a variety of cultures and learn about various lifestyles. When he's not doing one of those things, he's probably reading non-fiction or watching YouTube videos.

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