Kiss the Earth

Can Dietary Guidelines Save the Planet?

To find the intersection of two contentious issues, look no further than the environment and dietary guidelines. On the environment, the current U.S. administration is busy wiggling out of commitments to reduce carbon emissions. On dietary guidelines, battles rage on multiple fronts – fats, red meat, and sugar are all hot topics. Undeterred, brave Dutch scientists have waded in and analyzed the potential impact of dietary guidelines on the environment.

What Happens if People Start Following Guidelines?

That seems like an innocent question and that’s what Paul Behrens and colleagues tried to answer. They looked at 37 nations with 64% of the world’s population. They compared average diets in each of those countries with the diets recommended by the local government. The goal was to estimate the effect that following recommendations would have on land use, water pollution, and carbon emissions.

Their answers are impressive. On all three measures they found significant improvements, just from following guidelines that each country has already adopted. If we eat a bit less meat, dairy, fats, and sugars, both the planet and its inhabitants will be a bit healthier.

In other words, “diets good for our health are also good for our planet,” says Professor Brian Morris of the University of Sydney.

Change Is Hard

You might be thinking, what’s the problem then? It’s that six letter word – change. It always produces winners and losers. Right now beef producers are losing as many developed countries, including the U.S., slowly lose lose their taste for red meat. And so the industry pushes back, as they did when the 2015 dietary guidelines came forth. Hence, the guidelines didn’t come right out and say to eat less red meat.

But we feel no need to get stuck in the fuss about carbon emissions.We don’t need to spend all our time fighting about fossil fuels. People can ease the pressure on the planet just by following dietary guidance that’s already in place. Peace on earth. Goodwill for all. We’re ready for it.

Click here for the study and here for more from NPR.

Kiss the Earth, painting by Nicholas Roerich / WikiArt

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December 5, 2017

One Response to “Can Dietary Guidelines Save the Planet?”

  1. December 06, 2017 at 9:58 am, Allen Browne said:

    Peace on earth and goodwill for all.

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