Open letter to the European Commission regarding EU promotion of meat and dairy
Written by Rohini Bajekal, communication lead for PBHP UK
Plant Based Health Professionals UK, an organisation of over 800 health professionals, are welcoming the Commission’s aim to review the agricultural promotion policy “with a view to enhancing its contribution to sustainable production and consumption, and in line with the shift to a more plant-based diet, with less red and processed meat and more fruit and vegetables.
We are therefore urging the Commission to ensure a positive outcome of this review improving the public health of European citizens by ending the promotion of meat and dairy, and investing in the promotion of healthy sustainable plant-based diets.
Promoting animal-based diets poses tremendous risks to public health
Unhealthy diets are now responsible for 1 in 5 deaths globally every year, around 11 millions deaths in total, making this a leading risk factor for chronic disease, disability and death. Poor diets are major risk factors contributing to the rise in obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and dementia. In the EU, the average consumption of red meat exceeds recommendations, while the intake of plant-based foods such as legumes or vegetables is insufficient, as laid out in the Commission’s Farm to Fork strategy.
Promote healthy diets EU wide and beyond
Eating a plant-based diet refers to eating a diet that consists of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, with few or no animal products. Plant-based diets are abundant in nutrients such as fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that are often lacking in the standard Western diet. They are low in saturated fat, predominately found in animal-derived foods. Replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fat improves health outcomes and reduces mortality.
Eating a plant-based diet has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of our commonest chronic diseases, whilst helping you live a longer and healthier life. For example, a healthy plant-based diet reduces the risk of coronary heart disease by 25%, cancer by 15%, type 2 diabetes by at least 50% and helps you maintain a healthy weight throughout your life. Plant-based diets are not only optimal for disease prevention but can also be used to treat established illness in conjunction with conventional medical treatments. A 100% whole food plant-based diet has been shown to be extremely useful for weight loss, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and much more.
The impact of a plant-based diet is such that national and international guidelines now recommend plant-based diets for prevention of cardiovascular disease, cancer and the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Major dietetic organisations around the world, including the British Dietetic Association in the UK have confirmed that a well-planned vegan diet can meet nutritional requirements for all stages of life from birth through to old age.
Considering the proven negative impacts of diets containing meat and dairy, it is vital the Commission stops the promotion of such products. Instead, the Commission should take their aim to promote the shift towards plant-based diets seriously.
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