"If you want to save the planet, eat less meat"

"The fight against climate change depends on everyone: only with a change in diet, how to stop eating so much meat, we can do a lot to fight it". This is what Carlos González, senior researcher of the nutrition and cancer unit of the Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO), says. According to FAO data, livestock breeding accounts for almost 20% of greenhouse gas emissions – more than the transport industry – and is a major contributor to water pollution with all waste that it generates. With these data in hand, experts like Gonzalez say "it is necessary" to change the food model we are following today in the West, because this diet is "unsustainable". "We have to eat less meat and many more vegetables, seasonal and near-by, so we help to help rural areas around cities and avoid the problem of depopulation of the countryside". In addition, it recommends bets for legumes, which are plant proteins, an alternative to healthy and sustainable meat.

On the same lines, the nutritionist-dietitian Aitor Sánchez, author of the book My diet is lame (Paidós), explains that the production of meat, particularly beef, is "one of the most influential and inefficient processes in breeding" and stresses that producing one kilogram of veal protein is much more expensive than producing a kilo of beans. "Beef requires eighteen times more land, ten times more water, nine times more fuel, twelve times more fertilizers and ten times more pesticides than impulses," he says. "If you want to have less impact on the planet, reduce the amount of meat you eat", he concludes.

When we talk about meat, we must take into account, as Gonzalez recalls, that "the WHO believes that the reasonable consumption of meat is about 70 grams a day and we currently use 100 to 120 grams in the West". Given the increase in the world population and the incorporation in the consumption of meat from new countries, such as China, India, Brazil and South Africa, this expert believes that the situation is "unsustainable". "Developed countries need to start eating less meat, and this would be a great benefit against climate change but also for our health, as excessive consumption of meat, especially red, is associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes and tumors ". "A plant diet is a healthier diet," he concludes.

Kiwi from New Zealand

On the other hand, Aitor Sánchez believes that it should be consumed "fresh, local and seasonal", as it reduces the costs of transport, storage and temperature maintenance. "Bringing kiwis from New Zealand, coconuts from Thailand and beef from Argentina are not sustainable," he says. In addition, this nutritionist also believes that to combat climate change it is important not to throw food. "Almost a third of the production of food we produce ends up with garbage," and this is unsustainable if we take into account what it cost to produce it. Therefore, we need better management of the food we buy to avoid waste, and in this the nutritionist speaks of "a great ally", "the freezer", to prevent food from getting into the garbage. Finally, Sánchez indicates a last change related to the diet – even if it is not strictly nutritional -: look at the pack when it comes to buying. It is advisable to avoid plastic at best and try to buy containers that fit the food we eat, no more.

From the NGO Ecologistas en Acción, its coordinator, Fernando Saz, agrees with the other experts and emphasizes, above all, the importance of the consumption of local products. "A super-normal food makes, on average, a journey of 5,000 kilometers that should be over." It also speaks of the importance of eating organic products, because "it can only be a normal fruit, like a pear or a apple, has an average of 35 different pesticides ". If we opt for ecological products, we will contribute, says Saz, to the reduction of the use of these chemicals in agriculture.

The NGO spokesperson believes that "we can all do something, even on a small scale, against climate change." It is very important to be aware of this. We can have a lot to do, because we have the power to buy, "he underlines, even though it calls for greater involvement of public administrations.

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