Plant-Based Diet: Supported by The United Nations

The United Nations builds on this understanding to make a more explicit statement about the need for a plant based diet. Noting that there are 7 billion people to feed on the planet today and an estimated 2 billion more are expected by 2050, they demonstrate that most of the water we consume as a society is used to produce our food.plant based diet

Moreover, in educational material, they point out over and over again that meat products are tens and sometimes hundreds of times more water intensive to produce than plant foods.

Fact

For example, producing 1 kilo of beef consumes 15,000 liters of water while 1 kilo of wheat ’drinks up’ 1,500 liters. On average, meat takes 2,025 liters of water for every 150 grams, while fruit takes only 69 liters of water for the same amount. Oats take 355 liters and soybeans take 412 liters. [1]

What is a Plant based Diet?

A plant based diet is a diet that involves consuming mostly or only foods that come from plants. Furthermore, it focuses on healthful whole foods, rather than processed foods.

That includes plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes. For some people occasional consumption of meat, fish, or dairy products is permitted. A plant based diet is not necessary a vegetarian diet.

Plant based Diet Benefits

Health Benefits

  • Longevity

It is known that people living on a plant based diet, event a Mediterranean diet live longer, as they tend to stay disease-free.

Top Ten countries with the longest life expectancy. USA #43.

RankCountryYears
1Monaco89.52
2Japan84.74
3Singapore84.68
4Macau84.51
5San Marino83.24
6Iceland82.97
7Hong Kong82.86
8Andorra82.72
9Switzerland82.50
10Guernsey82.50

 

The United States are ranked 43 with 79.68. Chad is last, ranked 224 with 49.81

Source: CIA World Factbook, 2015.

  • Lose & maintain weight

A plant based diet may help to lose weight (and maintain it). As a matter of fact, vegetarians tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI) than meat eaters. Over 68% of  the general public are obese. [2]

The Oxford Vegetarian Study found that BMI levels are lower in vegetarians of all age groups and for both men and women. It may be because their diet is high in fiber-rich and low-carbs foods such as fruits and vegetables.

  • Decrease diabetes risks

Type 2 diabetes is a global public health crisis and contributes significantly to the healthcare burden. Excess weight and obesity to a large extent are the causes.

A total of 9 studies were identified, totaling 307 099 participants with 23 544 cases of incident type 2 diabetes. A significant inverse association was observed between higher adherence to a plant-based dietary pattern and risk of type 2 diabetes. [3]

  • Decrease cardiac events

An experimental group of people went under an intensive lifestyle changes (10% fat whole foods vegetarian diet, aerobic exercise, stress management training, smoking cessation, group psycho-social support) for 5 years. A control group did not.

The study showed regression of coronary atherosclerosis occurred after 5 years than after 1 year in the experimental group. In contrast, in the control group, coronary atherosclerosis continued to progress and more than twice as many cardiac events occurred.

In addition, at 5 years, there were more cardiac events in the control group (45 events for 20 patients, or 2.25 events per patient) than the experimental group (25 events for 28 patients, or 0.89 events per patient) .

Control group patients were more likely to have undergone coronary angioplasty and bypass surgery and/or to have been hospitalized for cardiac-related problems than were the experimental group patients. [4]

  • Depression

A study has shown that following a Mediterranean diet may have a protective role o with regard to the prevention of depressive disorders. [5]

Mediterranean Diet Food List

  • Vegetables

Tomatoes, eggplants, zucchinis, any kind of green leaf vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, peas, green beans, garlic, onions, olives, etc.

  • Fruits

Apples, oranges, pears, berries, cherries, and whatever else is in the season.

  • Oils & Nuts

Olive oil, sesame oil, walnuts, pine nuts, sesame seeds.

  • Dairy

Mozzarella, goat and sheep, feta, parmesan, ricotta, cheeses, Greek yogurt.

  • Legumes

Beans, lentils, chickpeas, split peas.

Plant Based Diet & The Environment

In the early part of the century, pioneer nutritionist Henry Sherman was urging the purchase of locally produced fruits and vegetables to save energy and transportation costs,the use of grains to feed humans rather than livestock, and the substitution of dairy products for meat since the former were less wasteful of resources. [6]mediterranean diet no meat

Global warming is caused mainly by emissions of green-house gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrousoxide.  Agriculture is a major contributor for the last two gases. Other parts of the food system contribute carbon dioxide emissions that come from the use of fossil fuels in transportation, processing, retailing, storage, and preparation.

Studies support the hypothesis that plant-based diets are environmentally better than meat-based diets.

  • animal waste (liquid manure from livestock ), is comparable to the impact of pesticides and chemical fertilizer on the ecosystem.
  • Its poor organic content and high pollutant content, cannot be used as fertilizer. It is often spread over the ground, leading to severe nitrogen pollution problems, which in turn lead to pollution of water springs, waterways and  oceans.
  • As for fossil fuel consumption, production of one calorie from beef needs 40 calories of fuel; one calorie from milk needs 14 fuel calories, whereas one calorie from grains can be obtained from 2.2 calories of fossil fuels.
  • Water consumption represents by itself the most dramatic impact: it counts for 41–46% of the overall impact: Animal farming and agriculture are responsible for 70% of freshwater consumption on the planet.
  • The use of land for animal farming purposes is linked to deforestation and to the modification of the management of rain-forests. Just think of Brazil latest events.

This all demonstrates that there is an opportunity of educating people living in developed countries to ‘change their attitude with regard to consumption and to individual behavior. [7]

In conclusion

Following one diet or another, is a personal choice and a way of life. As demonstrated in this article, plant-based diets help to protect your health and the environment.

A large number of studies show the significant and consistent protection provided by adherence to the Mediterranean diet in relation to the occurrence of major chronic degenerative diseases or mortality (cancer, neuro-degenerative diseases, mild cognitive impairment and stroke). [8]

Who would have thought Burger King’s plant-based The Impossible Burger would be such a success!

[1] Greenest Act Plant Based Diet. https://www.downtoearth.org/articles/2012-04/2793/greenest-act-plant-based-diet

[2] Obesity Statistics. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/overweight-obesity

[3] Plant based diet and diabetes. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2738784?resultClick=1

[4] Coronary atherosclerosis. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/188274

[5] MDP with the incidence of depression https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19805699′

[6] Dietary Guidelines for Sustainability: https://www.sciencedirect.com/sdfe/pdf/download/eid/1-s2.0-S0022318286802552/first-page-pdf

[7] The environmental impact of various dietary patterns: https://www.nature.com/articles/1602522

[8] MDP on health: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis: https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/92/5/1189/4597540