The British NGO British Nutrition Foundation, a charity that works with healthy eating, analyzed 29 scientific articles published in the last 10 years and found that it is not necessary to completely cut meat and dairy products from the diet for it to be healthy and sustainable.
According to the NGO, cited by British newspaper The Times, dietary recommendations made by the National Health Service of the United Kingdom, through the Eatwell guide, offer the best balance between environmental and health benefits.
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The guide describes a diet rich in plant foods, but also includes some meat, dairy products, fish and eggs. He recommends at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily, more than 30g of fiber, and at least one serving of fatty fish and one serving of lean fish per week.
As the journal shows, the British Nutrition Foundation states that it is important to “consider the essential nutrients” that meat and other foods of animal origin can provide in the diet, such as more than 25% iron, 33% vitamin A and about 50% of calcium, zinc, iodine and riboflavin in UK consumption recommendations.
The NGO warns that if people switch to a vegan diet without developing foods that provide these nutrients, it would be a problem, as people would not get enough of these vitamins and minerals. According to The Times, one in 10 girls aged 11 to 18 in the UK may be iron deficient (anemia).
“Too often, nutritional quality and the supply of essential nutrients are not taken into account in judgments about the environmental impact of foods and diets. It is vital that nutrition is the focus of discussions about transforming food systems so that we do not run the risk of encouraging dietary changes that benefit the environment but harm people’s health”, comments Judy Buttriss, Director General of British Nutrition Foundation and co-author of the review, cited by the British newspaper.
The director-general also claims that an advantage of a diet rich in vegetables but including a little meat, fish, dairy products and eggs, is that it is based on dietary patterns already known to the population. “However, currently, less than 1% of people meet the recommendations of the Eatwell guide and therefore there is room for improvement,” adds Buttriss to The Times.
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