This is a hot topic currently due to the Corona virus and connections drawn to the consumption of animal products. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, The World Health Organisation, and the World Organisation for Animal Health have said that our increasing demand for animal protein is one of the main risk factors of a pandemic.
Current commentaries on public health tell us we must stop eating animal products, work towards ending global livestock agriculture, and – as already discussed – rewild the land we would reclaim.
These discourses connect to another public health risk – that of antibiotic resistance. The fact that half of all antibiotics in the UK are given to animals (60% of these to pigs) means that we are routinely ingesting the miracle drugs that once used to cure us. Now, not so much.
On the dietary side, Professor Tim Lang, the UK’s leading expert on food policy says: “food is the biggest driver of NHS spending as a result of obesity, diabetes and heart disease” – all conditions with direct links to animal fat/cholesterol. Hippocrates Health Institute states that an animal-based diet is “the number-one killer of its consumers”.
According to the World Health Organization, processed meat and red meat are Group 1 and Group 2A carcinogens respectively and decades of research into casein – the protein in cow’s milk – have found it to be “the most relevant chemical carcinogen ever identified”.
By contrast, a whole-food, plant-based diet has been shown to halt and reverse heart disease, halt and even eliminate the growth of some cancers, lower Body Mass Index, reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes, and lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
The Association of UK Dietitians state: “Plant-based diets which are rich in beans, nuts, seeds, fruit and vegetables, wholegrains such as oats, rice, and cereal based foods such as breads, and pasta can provide all the nutrients needed for good health. Well balanced plant-based diets, that are also low in saturated fat, can help you manage your weight and may reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers”.
The Scottish Government admit that we don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables. Two-thirds of Scots are overweight including almost a third who are obese. Halting the production of animal products and growing a greater variety and quantity of vegetables, fruit and grains for human consumption would go a long way to making us a healthier nation.