New guidelines in Spain were drawn up by food safety and nutrition body ASEAN, which says the adoption of its suggestions could benefit both human health and the environment.
Spanish guidelines recommending people consume zero to three portions of meat a week have been described as ‘breakthrough’ – with campaigners urging the UK to follow suit.
The guidelines were drawn up by the Scientific Committee of the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition (ASEAN), which says the adoption of its suggestions could benefit both human health and the environment.
It explained that ‘the adoption by the Spanish population of a varied and balanced diet pattern characterised mainly by a greater predominance of plant-based foods and a lower presence of foods of animal origin, in line with the Mediterranean diet pattern, can improve the state of health and well-being, while reducing the environmental impact of the food system’.
Now the Plant-based Food Alliance UK is urging the UK to follow Spain by producing similar guidelines.
At present, UK dietary guidelines do direct people to limit their intake of red and processed meat, but only suggest reducing intake to 70g a day, rather than capping it at a maximum of three portions weekly.
Meat and the environment
According to ASEAN, when drawing up the recommendations, it carried out a comprehensive review of the most recent scientific evidence ‘both from the point of view of a healthy and environmentally sustainable diet, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations and within the framework of the Mediterranean diet pattern’.
It also incorporated the suggestions of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
But as the Plant-based Food Alliance notes, despite the UK Government’s own Climate Change Committee repeatedly urging the Government to include time-bound targets on meat reduction, its own Food Strategy White Paper, released in June this year, did not include any time-bound targets on meat reduction.
Breakthrough in Spain
In a statement sent to Vegan Food & Living, Marisa Health, Alliance CEO, said: “This represents a welcome breakthrough in Spain in the approach to dietary recommendations and the UK should look to follow suit.
“There is an urgent need to shift to a more plant-based diet for health reasons but also because our failure to do so leads us closer to ecosystem collapse.”
She added: “It is widely known that animal-based foods emit twice as much greenhouse gases as plant-based foods and the UK Government needs to act decisively on this to encourage a shift to plant-based diets.”
If you want to slash your own meat consumption, but aren’t sure where to start, check out our 21 vegan seitan recipes even meat-eaters will love
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