WHO president calls for shift to plant-based diet to protect people and planet – Vegan Food and Living

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The president of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has called for a global shift towards a plant-based diet to protect the health of people and the planet.

President Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for a large-scale move in diet in a bid to tackle the climate crisis and global health issues.

He made the groundbreaking declaration at the recent COP28 Summit, discussing how the current food system is having a devastating impact on the planet, malnutrition, and global diseases.

According to Dr Tedros, making the switch towards a plant-based diet could save millions of lives annually and help mitigate climate change.

He said: “Together, we can protect and promote the health of both the people and the planet.”

World Health Organisation

During COP28 (which ran from November 30 to December 13), the WHO released a video on YouTube titled Our food systems are harming the health of people and planet.

In it, Dr Tedros discussed the impact of the global food system on issues like public health and planetary health.

An accompanying statement released with the video said: “Climate change and malnutrition are two of the greatest challenges facing humanity today; these two issues are intrinsically intertwined in a wider context of population and planetary health.

“By addressing them in an integrated way, joint solutions to deliver healthy diets from sustainable food systems can overcome two of our biggest barriers to sustainable development.”

The statement also discussed the impact of common diets on health, noting that ‘unhealthy diets are a common and pervasive risk factor for all forms of malnutrition’.

It continued: “Pressure on public health systems is exacerbated by overweight and obesity and diet-related noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) like diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers, which pose a threat to long-term health but can be prevented by increasing the consumption of healthy diets.”

Environmental issues

In addition to public health issues, the statement addressed how the food system is affecting the planet in multiple ways.

It said: “At the same time, our current food systems are among the main drivers of climate change, biodiversity loss, and the depletion of natural resources.

“A shift to diets that incorporate healthier foods with lower environmental footprints, could help improve human and planetary health.

“Dietary needs and preferences and environmental impacts are highly diverse and addressing them requires context-specific, equity-sensitive solutions.

“WHO’s Department of Nutrition and Food Safety (NFS), in collaboration with many partners, is organizing a series of events and webinars to call for scaled-up action in the climate–nutrition nexus.”

Would you like to benefit from a plant-based diet? Check out these 11 steps to help you become a happy, healthy vegan

Featured photo © Atstock Productions via Getty Images

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