Spain has introduced new dietary guidelines that recommend citizens eat between zero and three portions of meat per week.
Per the Plant-Based Food Alliance UK (commonly referred to as simply “Alliance”), the new recommendations were put together by the Scientific Committee of the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition (ASEAN).
The committee maintains that reducing meat consumption is beneficial for both human health and the planet.
“The adoption by the Spanish population of a varied and balanced diet pattern characterised mainly by a greater predominance of foods of plant origin 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,” a statement from ASEAN reads.
Rich countries must cut down on meat
The committee’s statement is backed up by a growing body of research that suggests a diet high in plant-based whole foods is beneficial for health, while many meat products are linked with a higher risk of disease.
Processed meat, for example, is classified as a Group 1 carcinogen by the World Health Organization. Red meat is Group 2.
Animal agriculture is also a significant contributor to the climate crisis. It’s linked with a number of environmental issues, including deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions. Some research suggests that the meat industry alone accounts for nearly 60 percent of all emissions from food production.
In April, a study from Germany’s University of Bonn stated that rich countries must drop their meat consumption by at least 75 percent for the sake of the planet.
Meat is popular across Europe, but the Spanish population is particularly fond of animal products. In fact, Spain eats more meat than any other country in the European Union.
But the country is far from alone. China, the US, and Australia top the list of the countries that eat the most meat. And animal products are also a staple of many British diets. That’s why Alliance is now calling for the UK to follow Spain’s lead, and introduce its own new guidelines encouraging people to cut down on meat.
The organization’s CEO Marisa Health 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.”