There is a Downside to a Plant-Based Lifestyle

The Lempert Report
August 30, 2019

A new study published in The Lancet Planetary Health reports that if everyone around the globe began to eat the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables, there wouldn't be enough to go around.

Only about 55% of people around the globe live in countries with adequate availability of fruits and vegetables – enough to meet the World Health Organization's minimum target of 400 grams per person, per day according to NPR.

This news is not good. A recent study found diets are now responsible for more deaths than smoking around the globe. The EAT-Lancet study and the Global Nutrition Report, have pointed to the need for a radical shift in the food system aimed at pushing people toward more nutritious and sustainable diets.

"Current diets are detrimental to both human and planetary health and shifting towards more balanced, predominantly plant-based diets is seen as crucial to improving both," write the authors of the new Lancet Planetary Health study.

Many people eat poor-quality diets "characterized by cheap calories, highly processed foods and overconsumption," the study concludes. These factors promote obesity – so we now live in a world where many people are simultaneously overweight and malnourished. The challenge is to promote a food system that moves "its focus from quantity toward dietary quality and health," The authors conclude.  

The authors argue that several actions are needed to meet the challenges: increased investments in fruit and vegetable production; increased efforts to educate people about the importance of healthy diets; and – given that about one-third of food produced globally is wasted – new technologies and practices to reduce food waste.